To

Punjabis the World over
CONTENTS
• Prologue 7
• Foreword 11
• Acknowledgements 18
• Introduction 19
• Shah Mohammed'sJangnamab 53
Text in Gurmukhi and Persian scripts
Poetic Rendition in English and Hindi
-Index of Places 265
- Index of Names 268
PROLOGUE
The decline of the Sikh kingdom within a decade of the
death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh presents a saga of tragic events
that touch the inner-most feelings of the Punjabis even today.
No wonder, an account of the fIrst Punjab War of 1845 presented
by Shah Mohammed in his famous ]angnamah has been looked
upon as the best requiem written on the faU of the Sikh kingdom.
Shah Mohammed's ]angnamah leaves no doubt that Ranjit
Singh's regime as represented by the Khalsa Darbar had
identilled itself with the aspirations of the Punjabis as a whole
and had thereby come to symbolise the Punjabi pride. Because
of this quality Shah Mohammed's account has attracted equal
attention of historians and the litterateur. The doyen of Punjab
history, Professor Sita Ram Kohli cast a critical look on this
langnamah in 1956, when he edited the text by appending a
scholarly introduction to it. He accepts that Shah Mohammed
belonged to the lineage of Sultan Mahmud, an artillery offIcer
of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and was well-educated. Professor Kohli
afflfffiS that the narrative given by Shah Mohammed presents a
balanced and unbiased account of the events. Still, the author
of the ]angnamah also does not hesitate to pass his own
judgments on men and events. The correctness of the events
enumerated by Shah Mohammed remains unassailable which
makes it a flfst-rate historical source. Sant Singh Sekhon, a
celebrated Punjabi literary critic, looks at the ]angnamah as a
literary piece. He says: liThe skill and technical virtuosity in
[angnamah Hind-Punjab (the original name of ]angnamah by
Shah Mohammed) is by no means consistently uniform. While
mostly the lines show a felicituous style and skill in expression,
there are places where expression just fills the gaps, which
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indicate that the over-all felicity of expression comes more from
nature than from art. Where nature sustains the expression, it
is really perfect and such expressions are almost on the lips of
a large number of Sikhs (Punjabis?) even to this day." (A History
of Punjabi Literature, Vol. II, 128-29, P.D.P., 1996).
P.K. Nijhawan has chosen to present a rendition of this
langnamab both in English and Hindi because "it is particularly
relevant to the trifurcated Punjabi society today, which brought
about the partition of India" (See Introduction). Nijhawan looks
at Shah Mohammed as "a symbol of the true integration of all
Punjabis into one society, all over again," because "this is the
only piece of literature or folk literature which is so full of Punjabi
togetherness." It is out of this frenzy that Nijhawan asserts: "I
personally believe that Sikhism is the last re-statement of
Hinduism that we know,'I-an eye-brow raising statement for
many of us! He also tries to identify the rise of Sikhism with
"revival of Punjabi nationalism." But before making such a
statement, one has to perceive whether we can hear of any
reference to Punjabi nationalism from the chroniclers before
Sikhism appeared on the scene. The idea of Punjabi nationalism
is only of recent origin. Nijhawan's references to Sikhism as a
'schism of Hinduism' and the so-called Mona-Sebajdbari
tradition also deserve attention. My personal and family
experience has been at variance with Nijhawan's. My grand-
father was attracted to Sikhism under the influence of his wife
who was a regular reciter of the Grantb. The couple decided
to initiate their sons into the Khalsa fold. The consequence was
distancing of the entire Kapur gotra people from our family and
my grand-parents did not fmd themselves comfortable at that.
None of their sons could get a bride from within the Dbai Gbara
Khatri castes as per caste heirarchical tradition. On our part, we
never looked back. In this way; the Mona-Sebajdbari tradition
could hardly enable Sikhism to pass as a 'schism of Hinduism'.
It is also not correct to aver that Ranjit Singh had declared
Hinduism or for that matter even Sikhism as a state religion.
His was not a theocratic state. He named his government;
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Sarkar-i-Khalsa because of the debt he owed to the Khalsa and
the Guru whose century-old struggle and vision had catapulted
him to the position of a sovereign ruler of the Punjab. Shah
Mohammed himself takes note of the Sikh identity by using the
word Singh frequently. His laudatory references to the Khalsa
leave no doubt that Khalsa had come to symbolise the Punjabi
pride during his period. His general reference to the existence
of two communites in Punjab Le. Hindu and Muslim in no way
merges the Sikhs within the Hindu social order. We fmd
references by the British chroniclers also wherein Sarkar-i-
Khalsa is described as a Hindu state. Such references are casual
and reflect only lack of knowledge about ground realities and
unique position of the Sikhs in the Indian sub-continent. We need
not refer to such things while looking around in search of a
Punjabi identity as compared to Bengali, Tamil, Gujrati or Oriya
identities. The only comparison that one can think of and that
can sustain with the Punjabi-Sikh identity is Maharashtra-Maratha,
Rajasthan-Rajput identities. Here also the presence of the Sikhs
in Punjab as a distinct community, with an independent religious
system of their own in their own right and identification of the
Hindus with their majority co-religionists in the rest of India and
the Muslims with the erstwhile ruling class makes the question
of Punjabi regional identity altogether different and more
complex.
However, the project of rendition of jangnamah into Hindi
and English undertaken by Mr. P.K. Nijhawan more as a mission,
is unique in another respect also. Shah Mohammed represents
the ethos of post-Ranjit Singh Punjab and the impact of Ranjit
Singh's rule on Punjabi society is well brought out by him in
the jangnamah. No doubt, Shah Mohammed's jangnamah
describes the elan of the masses of the Punjab as a whole, who
had then come to identify themselves with Khalsa-]i-Ke-Bol-Bale.
He looks unto Ranjit Singh and the Khalsa as symbols of Punjabi
glory, condemns traitors like Gulab Singh and also does not
spare the Sikh Sardars like Lehna Singh Majithia, who despite
their capabilities, did not rise to the occasion and preferred to
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retire in peace for their selfish ends. I am sure his purpose of
arousing the sense of Punjabi pride cutting across communal
considerations on both the sides of the border, will be well-
served by making the jangnamab accessible to wider readership.
However, Maharaja Duleep Singh - Raj Mata Jind Kaur
Foundation agreed to sponsor this project because this could
help the scholars of history of the Punjab in their bid to
deconstruct the fallacious versions presented by the British
officers/scholars and to appreciate the grim struggle waged by
the last sovereign power of the Indian sub-continent to blunt
the aggressive designs of British imperialism.
Mr. Nijhawan has done a commendable job which I am sure
the academic world will appreciate and welcome.
B-1,
Punjabi University Campus,
Patiala.
August 15, 2000.
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PRITHIPAL SINGH KAPUR
FOREWORD
In tenns of its literary value, Shah Mohammed's jangnamah
may not be all that notable. But, in tenns of its social and cultural
significance, it is unsurpassed. Three things combine to make
it exceptionally significant.
One, the poem was written after the ftrst Anglo-Sikh War.
In other words, the second such war which was to lead to the
annexation of the Punjab by the East India Company had yet
to take place. That important developments, social as well as
political, began to occur even in the wake of the ftrst Anglo Sikh
War, becomes evident from a close reading of the poem. To quote
the translator, "AII wealth is today garnered by the sons of
moneylenders and gumashtas in the main. II In other words, a
class of commercial entrepreneurs came into existence as soon
as that war was over and the British settled down to appropriate
Ranjit Singh's empire. It was this very class which was to rise
into prominence during the later years. But then, the author was
obviously not in a position to foresee what would happen later.
However, what he observed with his own eyes is referred to by
him. Taking into account the later history of the state of Punjab,
one cannot but admire the incisiveness of the poet in noting what
would not have been noted by those who were not so observant.
The second thing that stands out (and it has been underlined
by Nijhawan) is Shah Mohammed's complete and unconditional
identiftcation with the Khalsa Darbar. Even six years after the
death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, his loyalty to the regime
established by him had not diminished in any way. If anything,
he laments the cracks that had appeared in the structure built
by Ranjit Singh. He talks of the various intrigues that were taking
place and does so with a feeling of deep regret. Instead of
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gloating over the disintegration of the Darbar, his tone is one
of genuine concern.
How could this have happened? The explanation lies in
the manner in which Ranjit Singh governed the state. In total
contrast to what had been happening for several centuries before
him, he ran that state in such an even-handed manner that even
though the majority of the population in the state was Muslim,
none of them had the feeling that the state was being run by
a Sikh ruler.
During the preceding Muslim period, both the pre-Mughal
and the Mughal period, the situation had varied from ruler to ruler.
In a few cases, the rulers had ignored the pressure from the Muslim
clergy and other forces represented by the Muslim nobility, most
of whom had come from outside India. For 7-8 centuries, a large
number of gifted professional soldiers as also men of piety and
humanism, had been migrating from Central Asia to India. The
former were soldiers of fortune. They came to India in search of
wealth and power. The Muslim rulers who had established
themselves as the lords of the country, generally welcomed them
and took them into service. Historians of the medieval period, it
may be added, have done a good deal of research work on the
character of the nobility established under the Mughals.
Beginning with Akbar, the character of this nobility began
to undergo a change. A certain proportion of it was local and
mainly Rajput in background and character. The phenomenon
of sharing power with the local nobility had started even before
the advent of the Mughals but it became noticeable under the
Mughals, principally when Akbar was in power. Babar had
recognised the need of it and had advised his son to adopt such
a policy. But Humayun failed to do so. One result of it was his
being ousted from the throne. That Babar could recognise the
need of coopting the local nobles, speaks volumes for his
political sagacity. lms new mode of governance was however
formalised as well as institutionalised by his grandson, Akbar,
with the result that it ensured the stability of the Mughal Empire
for another century or so.
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Ranjit Singh had not many such precedents to draw upon
except form what had happened under Ahmed Shah Abdali only
a few decades earlier. On two separate occasions, the leading
citizens of Lahore had come together and surrendered
voluntarily, so to speak, to the Sikh Misals. On both occasions,
the issue was whether to fight the Misals or agree to their
takeover. While in the first round, it might have been a gamble,
when it came to the second round, the citizens had had the
experience of how the Khalsa Misals had run the city during the
brief period that they had at their disposal. They were absolutely
fair and firm. Strict law and order was maintained and no high-
handedness of any kind was permitted or perpetrated. To put
it no more strongly, this was exactly in accordance with the
teachings of the tenth guru. It was this tradition which Ranjit
Singh decided to carry forward. Also, his own political astuteness
persuaded him to learn from the past experience and evolve a
model of governance in which the Muslims who constituted the
overwhelming majority, came to look upon him as their well
wisher and benefactor. Even today, one of the Punjabi heroes
recalled from time to time in Pakistan, is Ranjit Singh. No one
thinks of him as having been hostile or adverse in any way. There
was complete identification between him and the people he
ruled. Shah Mohammed's poem is a testimony to what happened.
That he continued to be remembered and revered even several
years after he had been dead and his successors had messed
up the governance of the state, was a tribute to his administration
and the legacy that he had left behind.
It is generally conceded that, apart from direct historical
evidence, literature is a rich source of social history. This poem by
Shah Mohammed makes it abundantly clear that there was no lack
of trust between the way Ranjit Singh governed and those who
were governed. The norms of how people were governed in
medieval times were very different from what they are today.
During those days, no one expected it to function like a
contemporary welfare state as is the general expectation today. In
those lawless days, Ranjit Singh seems to have treated his subjects
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in his own inimitable way so that he was seen as just and even-
handed. This is precisely what endeared him to his people.
Ranjit Singh's relations with his own community were close
and intimate but there were also occasions when he was
censured by the religious leaders of his own community. In
personal terms, he was not a model of uprightness or chastity.
He had a number of concubines. Those who controlled Sikh
affairs objected to his countless acts of dalliance. On one
occasion, it was even decided to flog him publicly for having
been guilty of certain transgressions. He submitted to the
punishment proposed to be inflicted on him though it is another
thing that it was not eventually carried out.
The point of referring to these details is that, unlike the
Muslim clergy which sometimes directed the Muslim rulers to do,
or not do, certain things, Ranjit Singh too was subject to
somewhat similar pressures. But he was astute enough to
somehow manage things and not have any kind of a
confrontation. In any case, there was no question of the Sikh
clergy asking him to oppress his other subjects. That was not
what Guru Gobind Singh had taught.
All his life he had fought for justice and was never guilty
of any injustice. This is what he taught his followers and there
are several instances, too many to quote here, where the Sikh
soldiers fought for justice rather than injustice. In fact, they went
to the extent of occupying only those territories where the local
people were in favour of their continuing to do so. Certain
historians have ascribed the failure of Sikhism to spread to areas
other than Punjab and embark upon a career of military
conquests to this lack of aggression or taste for military
conquests. There is not enough evidence to argue on either side.
This much however is incontestable that the tenth Guru was
singularly free of malice or the desire to dominate. His 'epistle
of victory' addressed to Aurangzeb is as much a rebuke to the
latter as a challenge to him. In any case, it is a statement of his
values and beliefs to which he had held fast even at the cost
of his life and those whom he loved.
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Perhaps nothing illustrates the character of Ranjit Singh's
regime more tellingly than the fact that his decision to outlaw
the killing of cows which was offensive to the non-Muslim
population was accepted without any resistance. Even the ruler
of Afghanistan sent him his word to the effect that the killing
of cows had been discontinued in his own countty. This was
done presumably to court favour with him.
It was this atmosphere of tolerance and mutual respect
which he was able to generate and which earned him the
undying loyalty of people like Shah Mohammed and others.
Nijhawan has called attention to this fact pointedly in his
introduction and no more needs to be said about it.
The third point which Nijhawan makes is equally
meaningful. Going back to what he knows about the 19th century
and the kind of atmosphere which prevailed in small towns and
the counttyside during his childhood, he makes bold to say that
co-existence amongst the various communities was a fact of daily
life. If all this began to change under the impact of the British
rule, it needs to be recognised that these changes came about
because of the social and economic forces generated by the
British rule. At the same time, it was a matter of high policy for
the British to create divisions amongst the various communities.
The introduction of the separate electoral system in the beginning
of the 20th century and all that followed, are details which do
not have to be recalled here. Those are recorded in countless
books of history.
What the British did was to promote a sense of separate
identity in each community. In the rest of India, there were
mainly two communities: Hindus and Muslims were encouraged
to look upon themselves in their exclusive way. For historical,
as also sociological reasons, the Christians never got involved
in this competition for a separate identity. The Sikhs however
got unavoidably involved. Their proportion in the total
population of the Punjab was exceedingly small, closer to 5 than
10 per cent at the time the British annexed the Punjab. But they
were higWy energetic and dynamic people. Depressed as they
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were after having had a spell of power, they gradually recovered
from this state of demoralisation. TIlis too has been written about
at considerable length and need not be dilated upon here.
Nijhawan refers to the role of the Arya Samaj in giving a
separate consciousness to certain sections of the Hindu
population. That this phenomenon led to some 'confrontation
between the Arya Samajists and the Sanatanists is a sub story.
The more important part of the story is that confrontation
developed between them and the Sikhs. Meanwhile the Sikhs
had been energised by the Singh Sabha Movement about which
too a good deal of literature is available.
Confrontation between the Sikhs and the Arya Samajists
became a prominent feature of the political reality. Till the end
of the nineteenth century, it was a different situation. It was not
necessary for Nijhawan to refer to these details except that he
refers specifically to the virulence of confrontation which
developed in the late 20th century. What is of real relevance
however is how there was absolute peace amongst the various
conununities under Ranjit Singh and before the British appeared
on the scene. Once the British set about the task of consolidating
their empire, and many things flowed from the manner in which
the British went about this job, the situation began to change.
Going further, one can perhaps say that what happened
under the British has continued to happen ever since then. We
are still passing through that phase when the impact of those
forces released by the British is still at work. TIlis is true not
only of India but equally of Pakistan and Bangladesh. Economists
and sociologists would choose to describe these various
phenomena as the rise and spread of capitalism, the growth of
ethnicity, the emergence of the nation state and various other
terms which are popular amongst the social scientists.
The significance of Shah Mohanuned's poem lies in this that
he captured that passing moment in Punjab history when there
was no cleavage whatsoever amongst the various conununities.
The Muslims who had been dethroned, so to speak, by Ranjit
Singh, did not bemoan their fate as might have ordinarily
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happened. On the contrary, that brief interlude of half a century
is still recalled in Pakistan with a certain feeling of nostalgia and
warmth.
Nijhawan is to be complimented on having made this
exceedingly important literary text available to a wide-reading
public. It is for the more preceptive amongst them now to draw
their own inferences. To what extent they, and in particular the
social scientists, agree with Shah Mohammed's perception, is for
them to decide.
2/26, Sarv Priya Vihar,
New Delhi.
May 18, 2000
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AMRIK SINGH
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
It is a pleasant duty to acknowledge my heartfelt debt of
gratitude to:
• Dr. Giani Bhajan Singh who not only supplied me the text
of jangnamah but remained my only resource person
during the entire period I worked on this subject.
• Dr. Amrik Singh, formerly Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University,
Patiala, has been my friend, philosopher and guide in all
matters literary. The critic in him is very parsimonious in
praising most literary efforts. However, in this case he has
gladly contributed the foreword which enhances the value
of this rendition manifold.
• Sardar Tarlochan Singh (now Vice-Chairman, National
Commission for Minorities in the rank of a Union Minister
of State), my chum and valued colleague of yester years
and a lover of all causes Punjabi. Not just that, he dotes
over me as a lover would.
• Professor Prithipal Singh Kapur, formerly Pro-Vice-Chancellor,
Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar and now Editor-in-
Chief, Encyclopaedia of Sikhism, Punjabi University, Patiala,
who as a perceptive historian immediately accepted the idea
that the First Anglo-Sikh War should more appropriately be
called the First Punjab War as the spirit of Shah Mohammed
so compellingly conveys and then agreed to get its
publication sponsored by Maharaja Duleep Singh Foundation.
• Sardar Gurtej Singh, formerly ofIndianAdministrative Service,
of the Institute of Sikh Studies, Chandigarh also deserves my
very special thanks because he critically went through the
manuscript ofEnglish rendition. Infact, he found it veryuseful
for the batch of Sikh students who had come to Chandigarh
from the United States to learn more about Sikhism.
P.K. NIJHAWAN
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INTRODUCTION
I.
J feel J am singularly privileged to have rendered Shah
Mohammed's jangnamah in English as well as Hindi verse. It
is an absolutely contemporary account of the First Anglo-Sikh
or Hind-Punjab War as fought between the armies of the Khalsa
Darbar and the East India Company.
It is from Shah Mohammed's original title that I am tempted
to call the First Anglo-Sikh War as most history books tell us,
as the First Punjab War. The historians' nomenclature is an
obvious distortion which appears to have been deliberately
introduced in order to rob this unique piece of poetry; of its real
pan-Punjabi character. Soon after the armistice, the new rulers
had started sowing seeds of a possible trifurcation of Punjabi
society in which job they proved eminently successful. The name
that Shah Mohammed has given to his jangnamah
l
'lang Hind-
P u n j a b ~ is, quite apt. Besides it accords well with such
nomenclatures as the Kamataka War or the Maratha War. It also
seems fully to support the view that, from the point of view of
the East India Company, it was a war of imperial expansion; the
truth of the matter is that the British had been casting a covetous
eys on Punjab, long before the actual war took place.
Shah Mohammed is an exception among poets. He knows
where to draw a line between facts and perceptions. He is about
as objective as the events that are unfolded here. But the
significance of the poet lies in the fact that he is also a highly
1. Professor Sila Ram Kohli has preferred to call Shah Mohammed'sjangnamab, a ballad
which is not correct. jangnamab is a separate genre that crept into Punjabi poetry
under the influence of Persian.
perceptive man, grasping as it were, the subtlest nuances of
things as they happened. In short, he is a remarkable kind of
a poet and a historian. In an utterly terse and tell-tale manner,
he tells us all what happened after the death of Sarkar as Ranjit
Singh was lovingly called by his subjects. The events happened
with such rapidity that none other than an extremely gifted poet
could have grasped them all. A curse of sorts seems to have
operated in the Punjab, leading each one of the grandees to their
doom, leaving the Lahore Darbar almost wholly orphaned in a
matter of half a dozen years. There is a sense of divine wrath
and dramatic irony in the enveloping tragedy. That the level of
the poet's sensibility could have risen in the same proportion
is something that cannot be overlooked. Without some such
process occurring, such a good, historically valid and evocative
poem could not have been written.
It is almost a filmic, yet truthful and sensitive account that
unfolds reel after reel in the form of a documentary which can
be remembered and sung with great effect before different
audiences by the itinerant singers of Punjab called dhadies. Our
poet is a man of great empathy and is able to bring on record
what no ordinary poet would have grasped, much less recorded.
Above all, he is so much of a Punjabi patriot that he is not
influenced by how the new rulers would react to his description.
. Another important fact which also needs to be mentioned
right at the outset is that while Shah Mohammed is a high-born
Muslim, Ranjit Singh hailed from the peasant stock and became
the ruler of Punjab after welding numerous principalities together
into a kingdom, only about half a century earlier. And this
happened after eight long centuries of Islamic rule in India. But
then Shah Mohammed is wholly secular, with not a trace of
communal thinking in his mind. He blames only those who need
to be blamed and praises where praise is due, without any
distinction of caste and creed. In short, he is a picture of what
an Indian Muslim should be in order to weld India into a strong,
homogeneous society.
He is particularly relevant to the trifurcated Punjabi society
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today, which brought about the Partition of India. Most people
can hardly appreciate that here is a Punjabi Muslim who shed
tears of blood at the fall of the Sarkar-i-Kha/sa. To see this in
the background of present-day communal atmosphere underlines
the point that is sought to be made. The reason why I mention
this fact in this manner is that it vindicates my thesis that "A
better Hindu and a better Muslim is any day a more secular
person than one who is atheistic or irreligious. Similarly, a better
Punjabi and a better Bengali makes for a better Indian than one
who calls himself an Indian fIrst and last." Shah Mohammed can,
therefore, be seen as a symbol of the true integration of all
Punjabis into one society, all over again.
II.
Before describing the actual war, Shah Mohammed goes
into the events of the six years after the death of Ranjit Singh.
That really supplies the essential backdrop of what, in fact, is
going to happen. He actually makes Kharak Singh, the new King,
hurl a curse on the Darbar. Coming out of his heart as it does,
this curse is fulfilled by the Almighty in letter and spirit. There
is something macabre about the deaths and murders that take
place in quick succession, one after another. In fact, the way
Kanwar Naunihal Singh on whom the curse had been hurled
by his ailing father, Kharak Singh and who was to succeed him
as the next Maharaja actually dies, cannot be explained away
on the basis of any rational logic. Could a balcony of the castle
collapse just as the Kanwar was passing under it by accident
or even as a result of a conspiracy? The issue is still being
debated with heat and passion. But was the accident not highly
unusual? Nothing else except the balcony collapsed. And as to
the conspiracy theory Raja Dhian Singh, who, they say, wanted
to promote his son's claim to the throne, could have been the
culprit. But was he ?This question gains further significance from
the fact that Udham Singh the other youngman who died with
Kanwar Nau Nihal Singh was none other than his own real
nephew. Then the only possible explanation, as Shah Mohammed
says, is that a messenger of death had already made himself
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perch on the balcony to carry out the orders of the Lord of Death,
Dharma Raj. The use of just one word Dhanna Raj makes it an
example of the divine wrath at work.
Alist of those who were put to death within six years would
enable the reader to fonn some idea of what really was to follow.
The list is as under:
1. Chet Singh, a very close friend of Maharaja Kharak Singh, was
murdered in his very presence at the mourning ceremony of
Maharaja Ranjit Singh itself. The young and ambitious Kanwar
did not want to share power with anyone else.
2. Passing away of Naunihal Singh and Udham Singh in the
collapse of the balcony of the gate under which they were
passing. It happened just after the cremation of Kharak Singh.
3. Murder of Rani Chand Kaur, the widow of Kharak Singh,
with the connivance of Sher Singh, the new Maharaja, and
the maids attending upon her. She had earlier been interned
in the palace by her brother-in-law.
4. Murder of Maharaja Sher Singh and his son Pratap Singh
by the Sandhawalia Sardars through treachery. Dhian Singh
was also murdered by them on the same day.
S. Killing of both Lehna Singh and Ajit Singh, the Sandhawalia
Sardars by Hira Singh, the new Prime Minister who was
the son of Dhian Singh. This was done in an open battle
in which the Khalsa Darbar was vertically divided into two
camps. Many a grandee died in this fight thereby rendering
the Darbar leaderless.
6. Killing of Jalla and Hira Singh by the Khalsa anny while
they were giving them a slip on their way to Jammu.
7. Killing of Jawahar Singh, the brother of Maharani Jindan,
who had been elevated as the new Prime Minister.
All this happened due to a strange and collective death wish
operating at that time. This resulted in three things: One, the
demoralisation of the wise and senior Sardars who left the Darbar
on one pretext or the other; two, the anny whom Shah
Mohammed had described pejoratively as Burchhas which
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means those who become a law unto themselves, and who had
become irresistible and utterly avaricious; and three, the
Maharani who decided to break the stranglehold of the army
by getting them destroyed in a war with the British.
It appears that Ranjit Singh, the benevolent despot, had
failed to create any lasting institutions which could sustain the
State. Certainly, the British must have played their treacherous
imperial game to perfection by sowing the seeds of disaffection
within the court and promoting lawlessness in the ranks. But that
cannot be the whole explanation. We must learn to apportion
blame where it is due and it was the lack of an institutional
apparatus which in the circumstances described should have
filled the vacuum. Otherwise, how come that the same Burchas
drew the highest praise from the same poet when they went out
to war, measuring sword with the British and laying down their
lives in the highest tradition of the Khalsa. In fact, their reckless
valour was the subject of high admiration even among the British
commanders for a long time. Shah Mohammed summed up the
entire battle just in one line in the Stanza 92, Says he:
"0 Shah Mohammed! But for one Sardar 1,
]be forces lost the battle they, in fact, had won."
Similarly, we may have to revise our opinion about
Maharani ]indan. For example, dispossessed of everything,
including even the nearness of her son, she not only saw through
the British game but also gave them quite a tough time. Anyway,
the indisciplined. army and the Maharani fuming with revenge,
are the immediate causes for the showdown with the British who
in pursuit of their imperial ends were, in any case, itching for
a battle in a calculated way.
Perhaps, the most perceptive part of the poem is the
concluditlg half a dozen stanzas. An ordinary mind and a lesser
mortal could have easily succumbed to the lure of pleasing the
way the masters and the poets as a class are generally known
1. The original word used by the poet is Sardar and not Sarkar. This is according to
the fIrSt published text which was in Persian script and whkh is in possession of
Prof. Gurtej Singh, the National Professor of Sikhism, Chandigarh.
(23)
to tum sycophants at the drop of a hat, singing panegyrics of the
victor. One such poet is our great Mirza Ghalib, who also wrote
his Fatehnamah, running into 42 verses of high falutin Persian
on one of the battles of this very war. We shall come to it later.
But here what is important is how Shah Mohammed responded
to the new masters. In this connection, stanza 98 is worth a close
reading. Hence, I reproduce below this stanza in full :
In this way, the Feringhee became the protector of the Mai.
7bey stationed their own contingents in Lahore.
7bey assumed the overlordship of the trans-Satluj regions,
Establishing their advanced post in Phillaur.
7bey took over the control of Lahore and Ferozepur,
Besides apportioning the revenues accruing from the trade
route of Nanda Chor.
o Shah Mohammed! Kangra too was usurped.
In short, they did everything a thief does.
The important part of this stanza is the courage of the poet
in calling the British thieves. Not just that. In the very next stanza,
Shah Mohammed says:
'The country now passed into the hands of company
functionaries,
As well as the sons of men of means. "
Almost in the same vein, the poet reiterates in stanza 103
summing up in these words :
"0 Shah Mohammed! All wealth is today garnered,
By the sons of moneylenders and 'gumashtas' in the main."
Nothing can better describe how the sons of the lower
middle classes, particularly constituting the monas. Le. those not
keeping long hair, after learning a few words of English and skill
in cajolery, became the errand boys of the Company bureaucrats.
This, in the main, explains how a rich area like Punjab became
poor within a matter of years. One can presume this kind of
perceptiveness only on the part of a genius. And even without
the knowledge of subjects like economics and history, Shah
(24)
Mohammed said it all. It must have pained him a great deal that
as an anny of occupation, the victors had laid waste the entire
countryside and robbed it of its riches between Ferozepur and
Lahore besides usurping so much of territory and revenue. This
had never been done by an Indian king. Ranjit Singh did manage
to establish an empire through conquest but that was invariably
done with the full concurrence and reconciliation of the defeated.
Otherwise, as between the Indian kings, suzerainty was always
the only issue. And once it was decided, all enmity ceased.
III.
It is a heroic poem which stands out even in India where
there is a long tradition of heroic poetry in as much as heroism
or bravery is one of the nine rasas (sentiments) which a poet-
to-be must learn to cultivate and evoke. There is, therefore, no
dearth of poets who have tried their hand at this genre. But the
classical Vir Rasa is altogether a different poetic category. It
borders usually on exaggeration. For example, the war scenes
in the Ramayana and the Mahabharta. Then, in the Rajput times,
there was a class or caste of itinerant singers of heroic poetry
called Charans and Bhatts whose function it was to sing
panegyrics of the great acts of bravery and chivalry of their patron
even if he happened to be a total coward, so as to be rewarded
in accordance with the custom. Sometimes, these Charans and
Bhattswere employed to recruit soldiers for the campaigns which
the kings fought during periods of emergency. In fact, their
poetry generally came impromptu and would be so redolent of
heroism that it would create a psychosis in which youngmen
would be swayed to join the battles to come.
But Shah Mohammed is not a poet of this genre. He is very
particular that he describes the whole thing in an undertone,
seldom using a hyperbole or an extra word. Hence, while he
fully praises the gusto with which the soldiers fought, he no less
lampoons the cowardice with which they beat a retreat. Perhaps,
this happens in every great battle or series of battles in a
campaign. Indeed he does not mystify or mythify for the sake
(25)
of it. His account of battles is summed up in a few apt similes
and metaphors which continue to haunt one for a long time.
Another great virtue of this poem is that it has been
composed in the baint metre, the king of Punjabi folk metres,
greatly popularised by Waris Shah. I am sure that those who have
listened to the lilt of Heer would easily vouchsafe the kind of
effect it has on Punjabi audiences when sung full-throatedly.
Only a man with a real range of voice can sing it. But when
it is sung that way, one immediately wants to respond to the
mood of the passage being sung. Shah Mohammed is also no
less a master of the baint and, t h ~ r e f o r e , this ballad is sung along
with Heer with almost equal effect, though the thought pattern
and the subject matter are entirely different.
Its total effect is not elevating but depressing. It creates a
mood of helplessness and even tragedy in as much as it is a
poem of defeat-defeat of a soldiery which lost the battle not
on the battlefield but elsewhere. However, the mood of dejection
that this poem does engender, is nevertheless full of patriotism.
And one only wishes how it would have been different if one
had been alive at that time and participated in some of those
actions. Even a man like me who remained far away from his
Punjabi roots for the greater part of his life, used to respond
patriotically to some of the lines that I happened to hear in my
distant childhood.
However, for me the uniqueness of this poem lies
elsewhere. This is the only piece of literature or folk literature
which is so full of Punjabi togetherness and even Punjabi
nationalism. It appears that the poet and his audience had
reached a stage of identification with the Khalsa Darbar to such
an extent that his poetry seemed to completely reflect the
aspirations of both the Hindus and the Muslims of the land of
five rivers. Having been born in the late twenties and lived all
my life in the communalised atmosphere of the mid-twentieth
century, I must confess I never came across this type of
expression of Punjabi togetherness anywhere else. In my present
mood, it is music to my ears. But then it raises some very
(26)
important questions of contemporary reality. For example, the
amount of disinformation that our history books dish out on the
communal question. Whatever be the degree of regret, it has
been constantly droned into our ears that the Hindus and
Muslims have always been hostile to each other which means
that they were inveterate enemies and Panipat was perhaps the
only possible meeting point. It is this that led to the 'two nation'
theory which formed the basis of the Partition of India.
Not just that, it is this kind of inexorable communal logic
which is paving the way for the trifurcation of the Punjabi society
in as much as the Hindus and the Sikhs of Punjab today are
also in the process of becoming two separate nations with two
separate destinies. For example, in the entire eighties, a virulent
militant movement for creating a separate Sikh state of Khalistan
in the Punjab on the lines of Pakistan, was fought with tears and
blood. And if the tragedy has been averted for the time being,
it is only because the silken bonds of shared Hindu-Sikh oneness
have not yet been wholly snapped in spite of overt and covert
machinations of several groups at several levels. Anyway, it is
the greatest tragedy that could have hit Punjab, at least for the
men and women of my generation.
I once had the occasion of partaking the wisdom of the
late Dr. M.S. Randhawa on this point. He told me that somehow
we ourselves had destroyed the human ecology of Punjab and,
therefore must now pay for it. When I asked him to elaborate,
he said that he could not conceive of a Punjab in which the
Punjabis were divided communally. According to him, no picture
of a developed and prosperous Punjab could emerge without
the Hindus, the Sikhs and the Muslims fonning one homogeneous
community. I was not too sure if such a state of togetherness
ever existed until I read Shah Mohammed in 1995.
I placed my entire Hindu identity on the anvil so as to
understand how and why communalism appeared in this form.
And my pet subject has since been that the process began with
the increasing alienation of the Punjabi Hindu from the
collectivity that Ranjit Singh had forged. It is he who moved away
(27)
from his organic roots, setting into motion a whole range of
communally surcharged chain reacJons. I wanted something
more definite to prove myself correct. Going over the whole
gamut of political, social, cultural, economic and linguistic
alienation of the Punjabi Hindu from the rest of the Punjabi
community, I found out that the Punjabi Hindu had done quite
a bit to breed and promote communalism in Punjab. In fact, it
made communal thinking among the other communities a more
rational, and more fashionable way of projecting themselves. Yet,
the third party which means the British, of course, contributed
no less to this process. Hence, I blame the reform movements
that first affected the Hindus for authoring this kind of tragedy.
How?
In my kind of analysis, it is the Bhadra Lokas, which means
the Anglicised Hindus who found it a godsent opportunity to
ape the white Sahibs in order to go up the ladder of life. On
the part of the new rulers, there was also a clear reward and
punishment policy set into motion. Those who adopted the
European model of the Renaissance and the Reformation as the
basis of progress, soon came to dominate the society. On the
contrary, those who resisted this change were relegated to much
lower positions, socially as well as economically. Thus, the
Anglicised Hindu immediately started reforming the Hindu
religious tradition by making it into a competing religion. The
churcWessness of the traditional Hindu now began to appear to
him as a sign of backwardness. This however took away the
cementing base of Hindu pluralism that had kept the Punjabi
society together for so long in spite of the pulls and pressure
of Islamic domination.
After coming across the picture of the society thrown up
by Shah Mohammed, it does appear that the Punjabi society had
achieved that homogeneity which could have made the
emergence of a Punjabi nation possible. And to this nation, both
the Hindus and the Muslims would have gravitated with almost
equal zeal. I, therefore, regard the forces of the Renaissance and
the Reformation unleashed both by Raja Ram Mohan Roy and
(28)
Swami Dayanand as the main reasons for the trifurcation of the
Punjabi society.
The catholic Sanatanist ethos of the Hindus and Vaishnavism
which was the religion of love, both came under attack from
the reformed Hindus with unremitting fury. Instead, the new
Hindus, whom I call Namasteji Hindus, wanted the Muslims and
later on the Sikhs to reach out to them on their terms only. And
the answer was a foregone conclusion. They, in tum, refused
to oblige the pretenders, particularly when the British had started
showing an olive-branch to them in preference to the Hindus.
How sad that not a single Hindu in Punjab could read the writing
on the wall. That is why I say that while the Punjabi Hindu threw
up all kinds of professionals, he did not produce even one man
from among them whom one could call a man of vision or
destiny. It is this jilted Hindu who, as a reaction, became the
first nationalist of India and filled the ranks of the Indian National
Congress. But by the same token, this alienated the Muslims and
later on the Sikhs from embracing the Congress brand of
nationalism.
I, however, must clarify that the outline of the thesis
presented above has emerged from a very complex historical
thought the nature of which is almost civilisational. It is based
on the presumption that Hinduism is a cyclic civilisation which
makes it that much more enduring, though incomprehensible.
But, by the same token, it has survived many a vicissitude of
history, keeping its own role fully well-defmed as the final
deliverer of the human race when the linearity of social
experience of the western man ceases to be a factor in the destiny
of man on this earth. It also presupposes that, time after time,
in every crisis, Hinduism has the capacity to renew and restate
itself.
I personally believe that Sikhism is the last restatement of
Hinduism that we know. It is, therefore, a higher and simpler
form of Hinduism, brought into being to save Dharma. And since
Sikhism is at this time Punjab-specific, it follows that the Punjab
must stand in special relationship with rest of the country. And
(29)
what is that special relationship? It is that overtime Sikhism will
once again emerge as that broadbased form of Punjabi
nationalism which will enable Pakistan to join back India in a
confederation at some future date. I know that this is a digression
of sorts but I do hope that it would be considered permissible
in the light of what Shah Mohammed has to tell us.
N.
Let us see where Shah Mohammed is absolutely unique. In
our times which are obsessed with the so-called scientific
secularism, his statement of a situation we can scarcely
comprehend. He talks of Hindu-Muslim oneness not as
something to be achieved but which is already an incontrovertible
fact of life, nay, the highest value which is worshipped all
around. In fact, Shah Mohammed thinks that anything likely to
interrere with this oneness cannot but be a scourge.
In this connection, his third stanza is worth mulling over.
TIlls is a quintessential stanza-most crucial to understand as to
why he sang his entire ballad. Imagine the scenario of his two
pals, one a Hindu and another a Muslim asking him how the
third caste (for him the Hindus and Muslims are no less than
two castes, always destined to live together) which means the
Feringhee descended between them as a scourge of sorts. Now
what is the dramatic irony? It is that soon their happy
togetherness would become a thing of the past due to the
machinations of this scourge. At that time, which means almost
within months of the defeat of the Khalsa Darbarforces, it could
have been no more than a foreboding of something sinister to
come which means which would hereafter not let them live
happily together. How prophetic! The exact words conveying
this prognostication are as under:
One day as I was sitting in Batala 1, wholly lost
The 'Feringhee' became the subject of our talk.
1. A town in Gurdaspur district.
(30)
Hira Lal and Nur Khan, two of my bosom friends-
Suddenly did they accost me, asking:
How in the midst of Musalmans and Hindus, living happily
together
Had a scourge of sorts descended from nowhere?
For, 0 Shah Mohammed! Never in the Punjab
Was a third caste ever known to have come.
Was this a mere instinctive reaction of a poet which means
a higWy sensitive mind in tune with reality or was he reading
it as a writing on the wall? Well, it could be both.
After going over all the ups and downs of the First Punjab
War which leaves him almost broken, he fmds an abiding ray
of hope in this divinely-coordinated Hindu-Muslim togetherness.
In a way, he rounds off his ballad on this very hopeful note.
Says he, in stanza 103:
God willing, good things shall happen again.
What if the soldiers have lost the lustre of their mien ?
Great commonality does exist between the Hindus and the
Musalmans.
None should ever dare break this common silken bond.
The new rulers have no ear for anyone.
Drunk with themselves, oblivious they're of our pain
o Shah Mohammed! All wealth is today garnered.
By sons of moneylenders and 'gumashtas' in the main.
This happy togetherness peers out from each of his lines
in the entire narrative of the ballad. The conduct of the Musalman
armies and the public at large was that of the highest order. There
was not even a remote suggestion that the Feringhee was the
deliverer of the Muslims from the yoke of the Sikhs, something
which became such a fact of life not long afterwards. Did the
British not try this card? Yes, they did. Let us see how.
Here we must refer to the Wahabi movement which the
British had engineered in India to cause disaffection among the
Punjabi Muslims against the Khalsa Darbar which, to all intents
and purposes, could be identified as a dangerous Hindu revival
(31)
against the Muslims. This Wahabi movement had given a call
for jehad for all the Muslims to unite for a religious war so that
the Sikhs did not subdue the Pathans. The British had allowed
the fire-eating Maulvisto organise the Muslims of V.P. and Bihar
and even placed large funds, ammunition and volunteers at their
disposal. It is enough to understand that the Wahabis were
allowed to reach N.W.F.P. through Sind so as to be able to fight
the advancing Sikhs. Not just that. They were able to incite many
of the Pathan tribes to join them in the jehad. They were also
fully supported by the Amir of Kabul. Now all this could not
have come about without the active connivance of the British.
For, this is how Sir Syed Ahmad Khan later on defends the
Wahabis and the general Muslim disaffection for the British.
But then it is remarkable that not a single Muslim chief of
any standing from the Punjab joined them. Not just that. This
movement did not distrub the even tenor of life in Punjab even
a small bit. What does this mean? It just means that the Muslims
at large had not only fully reconciled themselves with the Sikh
overlordship of the Punjab but also believed that they were, in
fact, equal partners in the Lahore government. Does this fact not
give a lie to this vile propaganda that the Muslims can never
allow themselves to be governed by anyone other than their own
co-religionists? It fully negates the 'two nation' theory which was
supported even by the communists, who advocated self-
determination for the Muslims. It destroys the entire raison d'etre
of the formation of Pakistan. But then we proved to be unworthy
sons of the Punjabis inhabiting the land of the five rivers only
a hundred years ago.
Only two things could have influenced the Muslims to
believe in the manner they did. One, that they had got fed up
with their own Nawabs and feudal lords who visibly fleeced them
in all possible ways; and two, the rule that Ranjit Singh gave
them, was really so benevolent that they had seen nothing of
the same kind happening under the Muslim dispensation.
Possibly both things were working in their mind at the same
time. But even so, this cannot be the entire explanation. Then
(32)
what can be the explanation? The explanation lies in the genesis
of the rise and growth of Sikhism. It appears that Sikhism, apart
from other things, also led to the revival of Punjabi nationalism.
Possibly the Muslims themselves saw in the Sikh Gurus deliverers
of the common man in Punjab and the Muslims certainly
constituted the majority in Punjab.
Well, this thought is not mine. Khushwant Singh was the
first to articulate it. He was able to do so perhaps because he
had much more intimate knowledge of the Muslim psyche in
Punjab. The kind of interaction he had had with them in Lahore
before Partition must have told him that all that the Muslims
wanted was to be approached differently, which means on the
basis of the universalism of the Sikh Gurus. The Hindus
organising themselves as a nation and the Sikhs under the Akalis
doing likewise and that too in a theocratic manner which means
with the aim of cutting the Muslims to size, must have fmally
driven them into the arms of Mr. Jinnah. And it happened
because the British also wanted it to be so.
Otherwise, Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan was no less a protector
of the Hindus. It was he who not only banned the Khaksar
movement in Punjab, but also brutally rained bullets on it,
unmindful of how the Muslims in general might react. He
defended the police action of invading the Bhatti Gate mosque
in Lahore and killing the Khaksars inside it because they had
taken refuge there by creating lawlessness through an engineered
communal fracas. In fact, there are many more instances in which
he acted as an utterly patriotic Punjabi, not caring for the
consequences. Only one more example will suffice.
During the later years of the Second World War, some Yanky
soldiers who had forcibly lifted a girl of the Fateh Chand College,
were killed right on the Nicholson Road in Lahore by some Hindu
and Muslim college boys who were playing a hockey match in
the University grounds at that time. There was great panic and
consternation in the air. No one knew how the military authorities
might react. The Defence of India Rules were still in force. But
Sir Sikandar stood his ground manfully. He refused to take action
(33)
against the boys because he said right on the floor of the Punjab
Assembly that in the face of such a provocation, even he would
have done the same thing. What I mean to say is that he was
not against the common Hindu of Punjab. All he was against
was the money-worshipping Hindu trader who exploited the
poor Muslim in so many ways. But alas! The Arya Samaj Hindu
who dominated the media and the Punjab Congress with the help
of the Akalis who had long resiled from the Ranjit Singh kind
of secularism, not only ditched the Unionists but also destroyed
the country in general and the Punjab in particular.
But even so, the description of the Hindu-Muslim oneness
of the Shah Mohammed kind cannot be explained away without
taking into account the fact that the Punjabi Muslims could never
forgive their law-givers, the acts of tyranny that they would
perpetrate on the Sikhs at the smallest pretext, particularly when
the suffering Sikhs were just about as much a people of the book
as they themselves were. As against that, the Sikhs were so full
of reverence for the Muslim saints and faqirs with whom the Sikh
Gurus had very cordial relations. An example; it was Saint Mian
Mir, a Sufi, who was given the honour of laying the foundation
stone of the Darbar Sahib at Amritsar. Besides some of the
Muslims actually saved Guru Gobind Singh from being arrested
by the Mughal forces.
Not only that, the personal conduct of the Sikhs was so
unimpeachably high, whether individually or collectively, that
none could question their gentleness and correctness of
demeanour. Besides, the martyrdom earned by some of the
Gurus and their followers must have left a lasting impression on
the Muslim mind, resulting in the utter damnation of those who
heartlessly prosecuted them. Hence, the Muslims in general could
perhaps never condone the fact that someone was to be
persecuted by the State for the only fault that he did not worship
in the same way as they did themselves.
The two Gbalugbaras (both major and minor genocides)
must have pained them no less. And then it was Ahmad Shah
Durani who had ordered the sacred tank of the Golden Temple
(34)
to be ftlled up with debris and with the desecrated blood of
the cows specially killed for that purpose. What I mean to
suggest is that the mute suffering of the persecuted who was
being hounded out like a mad dog and who as a man was
otherwise a hundred times superior to the one who persecuted
him, must have shaken the sensitive among the Punjabi Muslims.
For example, just as the carnage of the innocents at the
Jallianwala Bagh proved to be the last nail in the coffm of the
British imperialism, the genocide of innocent Sikhs would have
made not a few of the Muslims wish that the tyrannical
government of the day should meet its end soon. And then the
bricking alive of two young Sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh
is a crime wholly unparalleled in the annals of any civilised
society, which the Nawab of Malerkotla wanted Wazir Khan of
Sirhind to desist from.
And yet the Sikhs were not offensive towards them on
account of religion. Banda had destroyed Sirhind root and
branch. But in the heart of hearts the Punjabi Muslims might have
justified it as God's own wrath on that accursed town in which
such a heinous crime against humanity was perpetrated. After
all, the Punjabi Muslims were themselves no less the men of
conscience. It, therefore, stands to reason that the Muslims must
have been suffering from a collective sense of guilt on that
account. Not just that. Not a few of them must be wishing the
Sikhs to emerge as fmally victorious. For, that alone could justify
why the Muslim grandees themselves had offered the keys of
Lahore to Ranjit Singh. The benevolence of his rule must have
completed the rest of the process.
Another reason. The Muslim peasantry must have also
beneftted no less from the agrarian reforms of the Banda. In fact,
he was the ftrst to parcel out land among the actual tillers. That
the reigning mode of land settlement in Punjab is still ryotvan
dates back to that time only. Hence, while the Banda destroyed
the vestiges of feudalism in Punjab, the Muslim peasantry must
have felt pleased at such a tum of events. It needs to be
mentioned at this stage that the Sikhs stood for a qualitatively
(35)
different society where no one was persecuted on account of
his religion and everyone was assured of the fruits of his labour.
It looks that this revolutionary change convulsed the Punjabi
society and welded it into having a Punjabi worldview which
totally subsumed different religious and communal denominations.
However, there is no denying the fact that Sikhism as an integral
part of Hinduism was the state religion under Ranjit Singh though
the Sikh priests had as yet little or no say in its affairs.
For example, Ranjit Singh had banned cow slaughter in his
dominions. But somehow the Muslim subjects of the Lahore
Darbar never perceived it as an anti-Muslim act so much so that
in one of the placatory communications to Ranjit Singh, the Amir
of Kabul too had informed him that he had banned cow slaughter
in Afghanistan. Perhaps the Muslims at large did not as yet take
cow slaughter to be one of their basic religious rights; perhaps
they, or at least a good majority of them, too held a venerable
attitude towards the cow, say, out of regard for the Hindu
sensitivity on the point.
v.
But by far the most conspicuous aspect of this kind of
Hindu-Muslim oneness as described by Shah Mohammed is that
he has as yet no consciousness that the Hindus and the Sikhs
are two. It appears that right until the end of the reign of the
Sikhs, the Sikh identity was a part of the larger Hindu identity;
perhaps till then they were politically, socially, culturally and
religiously one. Perhaps the rise of the Sikhs was in actual
practice seen as an organic aspect of the revival of Hinduism.
Here, it may be useful to dwell on the communal or say the
demographically-valid communal composition of the population
of Punjab under Ranjit Singh.
Islam being an exclusive and proselytizing religion with
almost all the civilisational inputs built into it, along with its
military conquests, practised religious conquest as well. So
wherever Islam went, the Muslim population grew. And once
someone was converted to Islam, he could almost never go back.
(36)
So, converting this country which means India from 'Dar-ul-Harb'
into 'Dar-ul-Islam' was one of the more important objects of the
Muslim conquests in India. Anyway, the upshot is that not only
the N.W.F.P. which was more or less considered a part of the
larger Mghanistan, Islam, through the centuries of its dominance,
had converted huge populations right upto the river ]helum
excepting perhaps of Khukhrains, the Hindu townsmen in the
salt range. In fact, all major tribes of Punjab up to ]helum had
become Muslim to a man. But beyond the ]helum, or more
precisely speaking, to the east of that river, there were important
pockets of Hindu influence.
However, in the Rachna Doab which means the Doab
between the rivers Chenab and Ravi, the Hindu-Sikh population
was large enough not to be considered marginal. And beyond
the Ravi, the Hindus and the Sikhs started preponderating. This
demographic composition was almost intact right up to the
Partition of India. And if the Hindus and the Sikhs had settled
in the towns of extreme Western Punjab as willing agents of the
British for the purpose of trade and commerce during the
comparatively peaceful times of the British rule, the main
purpose of it was to open up the country for commercial
exploitation.
But one important change did seem to have defmitely taken
place. The Muslims of Punjab had started looking upon
themselves as no more than a separate caste and not a
community. That the Muslims were a separate nation did not
occur to them at all. It is this position that Shah Mohammed states
in the stanza quoted earlier. In point of fact, the concept of caste
had been so deeply ingrained in the common mind that Shah
Mohammed looked at the Feringhee as yet another caste now
intruding upon the Hindu-Muslim oneness. Now what does it
mean?
Going by my personal experience in childhood in one of
the more important mother villages of the Hindus of the Rachna
Doab viz., Eminabad, the Muslims had themselves started
looking upon the Hindus as a separate and superior caste. I often
(37)
heard the Muslims say (In my childhood I grew up mostly in
Muslim homes, and a Muslim lady, of her own volition, acting
as my foster mother, nursed me from her breasts), "Dewanji, how
can we be your equal? While you did not change your Dharma,
we (here they meant the lesser mortals) could not protect it."
Not just that. They respected our taboos and sensitivities. For
example, they would not let me touch their food lest it
polluted me.
Another example. Some of the more well-off Muslim
families had continued to maintain social relations with us. They
would make it a point that they sent us only the Kutha rasad,
which meant the uncooked food which we could cook ourselves
and give them the satisfaction that we had joined in their
celebrations, mainly on the occasion of marriages or the birth
of sons. Similarly, only a generation before, the Zaildar of the
town who was quite an important and wealthy Muslim of the
area, would move away from the carpet of Dewan Gobind Sahai
when the latter was to take even a glass of water. And though
my father was not a, big man, I heard some old Muslim lagis
(lagis were those who offered customary menial services to the
/ajmans) often telling my father that they would or could not
share a seat with him on his cot because "it is not our Dharma."
What I mean to say is that caste consciousness was deeply
ingrained among the Muslims so much so that they strongly
believed in many aspects of caste Dharma which is the same
as Geeta's Sva Dharma. In fact, the small-time Muslim converts
(who constituted the bulk of the Muslim population) were no
more than a caste of the larger Hindu world, having all the
concomitants of the caste from which they had been converted,
once upon a time.
That Sikhism was a schism of the Hindus or reformed
Hinduism or even a new religion, was as yet not so well
appreciated, particularly among those who were non-Hindus.
For, in all situations of a communal nature, the Sikhs always
acquitted themselves as much better Hindus. This was so right
until my childhood, for, ours being a Mona-Sikh family, the
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common supposition among all our relatives was that even the
Monaswere Sikhs i.e., the SehajdhariSikhs, while the Sikhs and
the Monas were Hindus only, yet, in an overall sense.
Our general belief was that every Sehajdhari family should
baptise the first born son into the Khalsa as the protector of the
Dharma. Even as late as the sixties, one of my Sikh uncles
specially brought for me the Prasadam from Rameshwaram for,
he had gone thither on a pilgrimage. When I asked if he still
believed in it, he said that in his youth, he had done piligrimage
to all the other Dhams. Now this alone was left. So he felt that
let it also be completed before he breathed his last. 'Was it
necessary to do so in this old age?' I asked him. He said he
had done so because he knew it would give solace to the soul
of his late mother. He was related to us through his mother.
But was there really no Sikh, as one could come to imagine
after reading Shah Mohammed if he were not aware of the Mona-
Sikh oneness which was a special feature of Punjab's sociology
not so long ago? No, it is not so. But Shah Mohammed used
the term Singh for all those who had unshorn Keshas on their
heads. And in the context of jangnamah, somehow they
happened to be all soldiers, fighting the battle of Dharma. Hence
all their descriptions come from the field of battle. In fact, in
the course of all the 105 baints or stanzas that this poem consists
of, there is only one mention of the word Sikh and that too in
a higWy distorted manner. That is when Shah Mohammed makes
Lord Hardinge brag as to how he would go and fight the Sikhs
and conquer Lahore in three hours. In my childhood, nobody
particulary the Sikhs, resented such distortions. In a way, it was
a measure of the sense of humour that the Sikhs had. Of all the
communities I came across in life, it was the Sikhs who had this
type of extraordinary capactiy to laugh at themselves.
Anyway, in the context of Shah Mohammed, even the
opposite is about as true. For example, there is not a single
Punjabi Hindu who fmds mention in the jangnamah in any
capacity. Even so no one should infer therefrom that the Hindus
or the Monas for that matter were insignificant in the scheme
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of the Khalsa Darbar. For, the fact is that Ranjit Singh conducted
most of the affairs of the state with the help of the Hindu
grandees drawn from the Rachna Doab and near about which
meant his own area of influence. In this respect, one can mention
the Nayyars of Kunjah, Chopras of Akalgarh, Malvais and Nandas
of Eminabad, Puris of Ghartal, Dutt Chaudhuries of Kanjrur
Dattan, Kapurs and Chopras of Hafizabad, etc. In a way, most
of the important state functionaries generally came from some
of these chosen families. And some of these families later come
to be counted among the Punjab Chiefs.
However, the only Hindus in the battlefield as mentioned,
are the Rajput kings of Punjab hills who joined the battle in their
traditional way as highly skilled swordsmen, of course with the
exception of Maharaja Gulab Singh of Jammu whom Shah
Mohammed describes as a despicable kind of self-seeker. From
the way Shah Mohammed mentions him, it appears that he was
hand-in-glove with the British in bringing down the Khalsa
Darbar in order to consolidate his position. So, he appears in
the poem only when the British enter Lahore. Yes, he too had
been humiliated by the Singhs who had brought him in chains
from Jammu to Lahore and therefore was about as revengeful
against them as, say, Rani Jindan.
But it looks he was equally afraid of the Rani and hence
kept his own counsel, though the kind of position the Dogras
had had in the Khalsa Darbar, he should have fought and died
in action to save the good name of Dogra dynasty. But he could
not be true to his salt, particularly when the crunch came. Had
there been one such energetic soldier which means the
commander of the army of Khalsa Darbar, the battle might have
ended differently. In fact, in the Second Punjab War too, he could
have tilted the balance in favour of the Punjab forces. But alas!
He was neither Dhian Singh nor Hira Singh. He certainly proved
to be a lesser mortal who stabbed the Khalsa Darbar in the back
as most of the Sikhs generally believe to this day. And, Shah
Mohammed seems to share their views.
Now let us tum to the second caste which means the
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Musalmans of Punjab. We have discussed them at length in
respect of how they had joined the Hindus including the Sikhs
to weld all the Punjabis into one nation much before the idea
of a nation-state could be conceived of or projected in India.
What was their contemporary role in the battle? Under the
normal communal reflex, the Muslims should have gained much
by ditching the Khalsa Darbar. But that's what we think after
the 'two nation' theory divided India.
However, the fact remains that while the Sikh commanders,
particularly Tej Singh, the Commander-in-Chief, and Lal Singh,
the personal adviser of the Maharani, both had sold their
conscience to the British, not one Muslim of any standing backed
out of the battle. And mind you! they occupied a very crucial
position on the battlefield. They had almost the entire artillery
under them. They were perhaps the best gunners on this side
of the Suez. Besides, they were so trustworthy that, during the
war, Rani Jindan had handed over Lahore to the care of the
Muslim forces only. Can anyone imagine such a thing happening
today? Anyway, in this context, it would be appropriate to
reproduce stanza 60 which is as under:
Mahmud Ali marched out from his Majha country,
Taking awesome artillery pieces out of the City.
The brigade of Sultan Mahmud also came out
With invincible Imam Shahi guns in tow.
Elahi Baksh brought out his guns after polishing them.
And showing them worshipful burning incense sticks.
o Shah Mohammed! In such a way did the guns shine
As if these were the flashes of lightning, out to dispel darkness.
It looks as if Shah Mohammed had sufficiently intimate
knowledge of how battles are fought. It is also said that he was
related to Sultan Mahmood, one of the artillery commanders
named by him above. But apart from that, there is no gainsaying
the fact that he was a wide awake man who could analyse the
diplomatic language and almost instinctively understand the
importance of the various goings on. Moreover, his sources of
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information were unimpeachable. TIlatls why what he has written
is authentic to the core.
VI.
We have talked much about Punjabi nationalism subsuming
the communal divisions in Punjab, particularly while discussing
Shah Mohammed. Now let us see the depth of this belief that
it was Punjab at war with Hind or India as under the East India
Company and not the Sikhs. The title of the ballad itself leaves
nothing to chance and underlines the point that it was a war
as between two sovereign countries, viz. India under the East
India Company and Punjab as symbolised by the Khalsa Darbar.
However, a few illustrations of a telltale nature of this kind of
Punjabi nationalism appear to be called for in order to buttress
this claim. Hence I reproduce below four stanzas to prove what
I say. For example, stanza 63 says:
All over Hindustan were heard great explosions of the battles
to come
Which rocked Delhi and Agra; Hansi and Hissar,
Bikaner and Lucknow; and Ajmer and Jaipur :
People across the Yamuna started running in panic.
The entire PUnjab appeared to be on the offensive-
As no count was possible of those joining the action.
o Shah Mohammed! None could be stopped in that blinding
storm.
The 'Singhs' now appeared determined to conquer Delhi.
The next illustration is from stanza 72. It says:
Regrouping the troops, the 'Tunda Lat' appealed:
'7be honour of England is in your hands.
The 'Singhs' have destroyed everything before them.
They've not even spared Hindustani units, whetherfrom South
or East,
The British Isles are full of sorrow today.
Full four thousand soldiers have perished in action."
o Shah Mohammed! The Lat roared:
"lts our turn now to taste the blood of the Singhs.1/
(42)
Stanza 88 is a much more telling illustration in this respect.
It goes like this :
In the meanwhile, the Sardars met and passed a 'Gurmata'
"0 friends! Have your senses examined;
It's the doings of the vandals that have cost us the battle.
Now the question is: How best to save our honour.
The Punjab was strong as long as the fist was closed;
Now they (the uncouth soldiers) have opened it and exposea
us.
a Shah Mohammed! We shall die here, fighting
So that the cause of Punjab remains undefeated."
But it is the stanza 90 which must take the cake. It says:
The 'Feringhee' once again attacked after heavy bombardment.
But the Singhs repulsed them with very heavy losses.
Both Mewa Singh and Meghe Khan took them head on.
Three attacks of the 'Feringhee' were broken and beaten back.
Sham Singh, the honourable Sardar of Attari,
Was resplendent in the battlefield despite his years.
a Shah Mohammed! In that blinding action
The 'Singhs' spilled the 'Feringhee' blood like squeezing ripe
limes.
The thread of nationalism which means Punjabi nationalism
runs strongly throughout the entire jangnamah. What however
reinforces this sentiment is the fact that not one discordant voice
is heard, much less even a feeble communal note. What must
impress the reader is the fact that the present-day Punjabis even
of my generation never experienced this kind of communal
togetherness. Our leaders, our education and our institutions
have been thoroughly communalized in a matter of 50 years,
or even less. We were perhaps far too eager to fall for such an
appeal. And the tragedy is that we had started considering it
as a natural outcome of what our history was.
While we, the Hindus, always considered the Muslim
attitude to be the source of all communalism, the Muslims felt
equally aggrieved that the Hindus were hell bent upon enslaving
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them due to their numerical strength in the population. But what
Shah Mohammed suggests is that what we thought to be the
gospel truth was, in fact, only a jaundiced view, indeed an
aberration. For, Vaishnavism and Sufism had long worked to
provide regionaVnational platforms to their followers. This kind
of nationalism is called sub-nationalism these days. But perhaps
our national consciousness must subsist on this sub-nationalism
only.
However, not skirting the real issue, the change in the
national attitude started taking place when the age of religious
debate got under way in the entire length and breadth of North
India, particularly the Hindi heartland. The main question being
debated in town after town was : Whose God is more true ? By
implication what was suggested was that the other God was not
only true but actually false. And this debate generated a lot of
communal heat and fury within the society, defeating centuries
of communal integration. Let us tum the pages of the Satyarth
Parkash to know what I mean to say. And once the
fundamentalist attitude came to acquire respectability, ecletic and
egalitarian thought took wings. And it appears to have been
encouraged by the government of the day which could have no
other stake in the matter than to divide.
In India, there is a very old tradition of having one's doubts
cleared and the questions that disturb answered. After all, it is
the spiritual quest of man that lends so much meaning to life
and culture. We have our own picture of what a Shastrartha
should be. It is a constructive discussion in order to arrive at
valid conclusion. And, the discussions have to be within well-
defmed parameters only. That is the way the Upanishads were
written, or more importantly, put together. Socrates also followed
this way for fmding out the truth and spread his message.
Sometimes, he would himself raise questions and fmally answer
them for the audience. But now the Sbastrartbas took place with
no holds barred.
The learned argument was quite often drowned in abuse
and slander. Somehow questions of faith cannot be put to proof
(44)
or argued over in this manner. For example, the Sanatana side
of the Hinduism that had sustained the faith for centuries and
had imparted pluralism as a sustaining quality to the society, had
to suffer mutely when it was lampooned. It could just not answer
things in the Billingsgate language!
For example, how could it defend Lord Krishna's dalliance
with the Gopikas? In fact, within Hinduism, the worst sufferer
was Vaishnavism which came to be regarded as a licentious mode
of worship. Not unoften were the Hindus described as the first
phallus-worshippers of the world. And as far inter-religious
discussion, it often came to the breaking of heads. What was
the outcome? It destroyed the basic unity and cohesiveness of
that spiritual experience which had made the Hindus pay respect
to almost every canon of every religion. The spiritual health of
the society was thus tom asunder in the streets. It was an
extremely vulgar exercise, conducted in an equally vulgar way.
At one stroke our rich mythological lore became an utterly
primitive expression of men and women walking on all fours.
The new linear thought was that since the Hindus had no
history, there was nothing worthwhile in India's past. Conversely,
it also began to be said that our past was extremely rich. But
then if we had fallen on lean days it was because of our disunity
and inability to defend ourselves. Both ways, the past became
a subject of ridicule. It was this revivalist thought that also
affected the Muslims no less because they too started to feel that,
had they been true Muslims, God would never have punished
them in this way which means making them hewers of wood
and drawers of water in their own home. The Sikh revivalist
movements also had the same argument to offer. They thought
that their proximity to Hinduism which was passive by nature
had deprived them of the fruits of the great heroism displayed
by the Khalsa. The upshot is that once the process of such
revivalist thinking started, every community began pulling in a
different direction.
Overtime, the same argument went a stage further and these
communities graduated to be nations, always ready to pick up
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quarrels at the slightest possible provocation. This is what I saw
in Lahore in the late thirties. Gods were becoming demons in
as much as people had started losing all higher expressions of
civilized norms of religious and social living. For example, no
single Hindu or Sikh woman could pass through the Bhatti Gate
or the Machi Gate in Lahore without passes of an indecent nature
being made. The Hindu youngmen too considered it their
religious duty to pay back in the same coin, particularly in the
Shah A/ami gate and Machhi Hatta.
A personal experience. In my childhood, I had a tuft of hair
on the crown of my head as an announcement of the fact that
I was a Hindu. Exactly similar was the position of my elder
brother. And when we moved through the Bhaati Gate to go
to our Sanskrit Pathsha/a, we had to daily suffer the humiliation
of our tuft being plucked. We had been taught to defend this
mark of our being a Hindu even at the cost of our lives. But
could we? In any small quarrel between us and the Muslim
urchins, even the elderly would join against us, gesticulating at
us in several threatening ways.
What then is the upshot? It is this that we have proved
wholly unworthy of Shah Mohammed as Punjabis. It is we who
have destroyed all the good work of the Vaishnavites, the Sufis
and the Sikh Gurus in shaping a Punjabi society which could
subsume our separate Hindu, Muslim and Sikh identities. It was
not so yet in our own town, even though the Muslims
preponderated over the Hindus and Sikhs in the ratio of 3:1. Our
tufts were respected for what these stood. Nobody taunted or
tormented us for that. Similarly, a daughter or a daughter-in-law,
whether of a Hindu or a Muslim was considered sacred because
then she was the daughter or daughter-in-law of the whole town.
In other words, the more educated did we become, the more
boorish we turned out to be ! It is this upside down Parkinson's
law that accounts for our communalism.
May be it is cynical to say so. But one cannot escape the
conclusion that had we not been educated or civilized in the
manner we have been, there would have been no purveying of
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communalism and the Partition of the country would not have
taken place. In that case, we would have remained Punjabis in
the same way as Ranjit Singh had left us. But alas! With our
modern education, everything got changed, so much so that
today there are either Hindus or Muslims or the Sikhs in Punjab
but no Punjabis. Perhaps through the modern educational
process we have learnt less and unlearnt more. At least we have
unlearnt the virtue of being truly civilized which means true,
sensitive and tolerant human beings, wedded to a higher Punjabi
sense of solidarity and togetherness.
VII.
A brief discussion of the imagery used by Shah Mohammed
is perhaps called for. The metaphors and similes used by Shah
Mohammed are patently Indian, if not Hindu. These figures of
speech are used by poets to compress aeons of experience in
a few words. These bring before the readers' eyes a whole drama
being enacted or an entire episode being narrated just in one
word. The storehouse of such allusions inevitably are the Indian
classics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Normally, a
high-born Muslim, connected with the Qureshi clan of Arabia,
Shah Mohammed, would have used those figures of speech from
the Islamic sources which means the Persian and Arabic classics.
But that is not the way Shah Mohammed goes about his task.
He had no use for bamboozling the reader or his listener
with his Himalayan scholarship or the knowledge of foreign
languages. He, therefore, talks in the idiom of the people so that
the import of his usage becomes instantly clear. It is such things
only which underline the rootedness of the poet to the soil which
has nurtured him. However, it is difficult to imagine that an
Indian Muslim could have become so much Indianised or, more
correctly speaking, indigenised himself to this extent that almost
all his metaphors and similes are taken from local sources. Well,
it does not happen even today when there is so much of lip
sympathy for the local idiom. And anybody who achieves it can
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do so after considerable hard labour. To write in the language
of the people with their usage intact in the main, is jnfinitely
more difficult than to write in a high-faultin, scholarly language.
And Shah Mohammed can truly be cited as an example of this
kind.
For example, in the very first stanza, he talks of fourteen
worlds. Now this is a purely Hindu concept. Muslims divide the
universe into two worlds which means, 'Do ]ahan
'
as they call
it. Again in stanza 9, the Lord of Death for him is Dharma Raj
who sends his messengers to this world for inflicting death as
per his dictates. Similarly, he portrays Partap Singh, the son of
Sher Singh, as performing Havan when the cruel Lehna Singh
beheads him, not knowing that he himself would not live a day
more. Then the Sandhawalia Sardars anoint the child-prince
Dalip Singh with the warm blood of Raja Dhian Singh who is
just dying and then circumambulate around him. This is almost
the way a Hindu ritual would have been carried out. Then in
stanza 39, he sings of the deeds of ]aimal and Phatta who had
defended Chittor against the mighty Akbar with legendary
bravery and covered themselves with undying glory. He also
describes Sardar Lehna Singh Majithia leaving on a long
pilgrimage on fmding conditions of complete anarchy prevailing
in the Darbar. The usage of the word 'Desh
'
instead of 'Mulk
'
again and again conftrms his extreme fondness for the local
usage even though the word 'Mulk
'
is also used with equal effect.
Not just that. Shah Mohammed talks of the destruction of
Ravana who had one lakh sons and one and a quarter lakh
grandsons just because an insider had stabbed him in the back.
Similarly, in stanza 60, he says, "Elahi Baksh brought out his guns
after polishing them and showing them worshipful burning
incense sticks." Could a Hindu gunner have done better? Again,
in stanza 76, he says, "it was like the Kauravas and Pandavas
releasing their arrows." Perhaps it was the aptest simile for an
Indian to describe the fire-balls raining. But it is stanza 102 which
takes the cake. Hence it would be useful to reproduce the entire
stanza.
(48)
From the day one, women have had their way.
For, they alone account for why Rama lost his sway.
1be Kauravas and Pandavas too suffered at their hands.
Ful/ eighteen armies perished in the Kurukshetra sands.
1bey bridled even Raja Rhoj, the wisest ever King
With their toes they mauled and befuddled him, in the ring.
o Shah Mohammed! No wonder then that the queenlind KaUT
Had the country /aid waste in its darkest hour.
1bis is perhaps the best way of describing how women in
history are known to have led their menfolk to countless
misfortunes. He makes a mention of not only Rama and the
Kauravas and the Pandavas but even of Raja Bhoj whose stories
portray him as a byword of cultivated wisdom.
Of course, Shah Mohammed also mentions Ali Akbar twice.
It appears he has done so for two very good reasons. One, Ali
Akbar emerges as a model son who regains the crown of Kabul
for his deposed father by organizing the Afghans against the
British and expelling the latter from Afghanistan; and two,
scanning a whole century of British expansion in India, he is
the only one who by dint of arms, defeats the so-far undefeated
British. Perhaps Shah Mohammed while being a good Punjabi,
was a hater of the British too; perhaps he wanted the Feringbee
to be crushed out of Punjab so that the Hindus and Musalmans
could eternally live together in peace. Hence, Ali Akbar is
important to him as a symbol embodying certain values and not
just because he was a Muslim warrior.
He also mentions Dulla Bhatti, the Punjabi Robinhood who
as a jungle-king saved the honour of a Bralunin girl against the
carnal avarice of a Muslim Governor. Perhaps Shah Mohammed
fIrmly believed that it is men like Dulla Bhatti who should
become symbols of the Hindu-Muslim oneness in Punjab. That
Dulla Bhatti is today the best known folk hero of Punjab and
his lays are sung both in India and Pakistan, is enough to justify
Shah Mohammed in doing so. He also alludes to one Mir Dad
Khan Chauhan whose wives commit Sati in the best Rajput
tradition. Hence that allusion is again very well placed as a
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common metaphor of Hindu-Muslim oneness.
Now the question that arises is : Is it possible for a modem-
day Punjabi Muslim to be so well conversant with the similes
and metaphors of Indian life? The answer may be in the negative.
Why? The reason is that the new nation of Pakistan, which is
constituted mainly of the Punjabi Muslims, is bred on Hindu
hatred, though some of them are still better Punjabis than us.
But then, as long as the Punjabi language is a living link between
the two Punjabs, there will always remain an irresistible yearning
among them to know more about the Punjabis of India.
And if this yeaming is genuine, then there is always hope
that one day, there will be born what we may call the historical
Punjab. Shah Mohammed can then become a symbol of what
we have of Punjab which means our great civilisational heritage.
VIII.
Before closing the discussion of jangnamah and its author
Shah Mohammed, it will be useful to see how Ghalib handled
this subject in the Persian masanavi on one
of the battles of this war. As a poet, Ghalib is one of the greatest
ever born on the Indian soil. In fact, I am inclined to agree that,
after the Rig Veda, Ghalib is perhaps the only original Indian
voice. But then Ghalib too suffers from the common weakness
of the poets which makes them sell their conscience in exchange
for small crumbs of state patronage. In handling this subject,
Ghalib has done just that. I am not sure as to what he got out
of this bargain. But obviously, his masanavi is an encore effort
which prostitutes are known to make before their rich clients.
In fact, Ghalib's literary prostitution not only angers his fans but
also fills them with dismay. Besides, this masanavi of his is so
bereft of literary excellence that it goes to underscore that, once
a poet decides to sell himself for a price, the quality of his poetry
also goes down in the same measure. What it means is that it
is a poor effort to poetise what could not have done credit to
even a literary hack.
In short, it is quite a diatribe of chosen invectives against
(50)
the Sikhs whom even the diehard enemies have paid fulsome
tributes for their deeds against all odds on the battlefield, Ghalib
not only talks of the racial and cultural superiority of the English
soldiers but also describes the Sikhs as "a blot on the forehead
of a civilization, so profaned by the population of Dharma." A
curious aspect of this description is that the Sikhs are shown as
coming from the West and are to him no more than erring animals
or black Negroes. As against that, the British to him come from
the East (where the sun rises) and are the repository of all light,
knowledge and wisdom.
Of course, it may be considered a digression of sorts. But
why I have mentioned it is because it affords a comparison
between the two poets, one a committed Punjabi and the other
a pure mercenary. Hence it enables one to know how Shah
Mohammed is several notches above the great Mirza Ghalib.
Perhaps at that point of time in his .life Ghalib was trying to
pander to anyone, if only his pension could be restored by the
British. Perhaps Shah Mohammed could have got anything by
pleasing the new masters of Punjab. But then, it would have been
unlike Shah Mohammed. Only a poet who would never
compromise on his poetic integrity, could have written such an
unbiased account.
IX.
A word about why a rendition or translation into two
languages, viz. English and Hindi. The reason is simple. As I have
been a professional translator all my life, when I read this poem
way back in 1995, I could not help translating it into English,
the idea being that it ought to reach the vast English-reading
Punjabis as an unrivalled piece of their cultural heritage.
However, when I took it out now in order to revise it, I found
that in my first attempt, I had scarcely appreciated that it was
a theme of both social and literary significance. I felt that I should
translate it into Hindi as well because it was perhaps the best
piece of poetry on national integration. It had come from the
pen of a Muslim, which no Hindu could excel.
(51)
In the context of Punjab, it became doubly important
because not long ago my fatherland had been divided on the
basis of the 'two nation' theory. And here was a piece of literature
which emphatically negated that theory. After reading Shah
Mohammed, it becomes abundantly clear that all communalism
in Punjab was the handiwork of the third party, which means
the British, whom Shah Mohammed has aptly described as a
scourge. This view must go before the vast Hindi-reading
audience as well because the Hindus by and large think that it
is the Muslims or the Sikhs who are communal. Let them know
that the boot is on the other leg. Their communalism came as
a reaction to how the Hindus themselves had started thinking
and acting. Hence this rendition in Hindi.
But there is another reason as well. It has for long been
my ambition that, given the opportunity, I should translate the
great Punjabi classic, Heer Wan's Shah. I do not know how I
will acquit myself in handling that stupendous task. Hence, this
act of apprenticeship. If this translation is found worthwhile, I
should feel doubly encouraged to undertake that much
bigger job.
Besides, I have attempted the Hindi translation in the bam/
metre. The purpose is that even the non-Punjabi reading students
of Punjabi extraction may have something to sing which is as
soulful as the Heer. And besides, it would regenerate the spirit
of Shah Mohammed-something essential to fight communalism.
I want to see that day when all the Punjabis, Muslims and Hindus
along with the Sikhs realize the enormous historical folly of
having divided their fatherland. One day this folly is bound to
be realized. But can I be instrumental in advancing it by even
half a second?
273, Sector 17,
Faridabad (Haryana)
May 1, 2000
(52)
P.K. NIJHAWAN
THE FIRST PUNJAB WAR
SHAH MOHAMMED'S ]ANGNAMAH
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(54)
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First praised be Allah
Who fllls the nature with His redolence and playfulness;
Who adorns the fourteen worlds in a thousand ways supreme;
Who invests flowers with countless bewitching hues;
Who despatches the dead wood, verily, into oblivion;
Who fashions future paths for us, with His ever-renewing grace.
o Shah Mohammed! Him alone must we fear;
He makes beggars of kings without a tear.

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(56)
2
On entering the stage called world, bemused we are
With endless beguiling guises that it does take.
Never last the youth, the fun and the parents;
Never lasts the innocence children do beam;
Never last the wealth, the camel and the horse;
Never last the kings and their regal splendour.
o Shah Mohammed! never last the life and its myriad wonders.
And never last the black hair in youthful resplendence.

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(58)
3
One day as I sat in Batalat j wholly lost,
The Feringhee became the subject of our talk.
Hira Lal and Nur Khan, two of my bosom friends,
Suddenly did they accost me, asking:
How in the midst of Musalmaans and Hindus,
living happily together,
Had a scourge of sorts descended from nowhere?
For, 0 Shah Mohammed! never in the Punjab,
Was a third caste ever known to have come.

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t It is generallyaccepted that Shah Mohammedwas born at village Wadala (Virarn) near
Anuitsar. For details see : Sita Ram Kohli, Sewa Singh Giani, Var Sbab Mobammed,
p.88, (Punjabi Sahit Akademi, Ludhiana, 1988); Piara Singh Padam, jangnamab
Singban Ie Firangian, p. 11 (Singh Brothers, Anuitsar, 1997); Rattan Singh jaggi,
jangnamab Singban Ie Firangian, p. IX-X(Punjabi University, Patiala, 1999).-PSK
(59)
8
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4
The world is an inn, visited by travellers,
Some of whom gather pelf and power.
Shaddad, Namrud and the Pharoahs
All vanished without a trace, after proclaiming godhood.
Akbar, the Great, who once ruled Delhi,
Disappeared as no more than an itinerant merchant.
o Shah Mohammed! The true God alone shall survive;
The rest shall trumpet drums of falsehood and depart.

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5
Then came upon the scene Ranjit Singh, the warrior king,
Whose mere name made the enemy tremble.
He conquered Multan and Kashmir; Peshawar and Chamba;
And Jammu and Kangra - and so on and so forth.
His name, like true coin, prevailed
Up to far-off Ladakh and Tibet and China.
o Shah Mohammed! For ftfty years on end did he rule
And whetted his appetite for glory and power.

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6
But when he breathed his last,
And all the courtiers gathered together to mourn.
Chet Singh was put to sword by none other than Kaur,
'Twas an event that heralded the law of jungle.
For, Kharak Singh, the new king, wept like a child, saying:
"I've lost my pal of the yester years.
o Shah Mohammed! I too shall die with him,
This is my solemn promise unto my friend.
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7
"They've murdered him in my very presence.
May this kingship too be destroyed.
No one shall rule after me.
I shall die after killing all else.
They murdered him for no fault of his.
Mayall the Sardars meet the same fate!"
o Shah Mohammed! Death became so omnipresent after that,
It claimed one and all, one by one.
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(68)
8
And lo! Kharak Singh fell seriously ill.
He cropped off within a year of his friend's death.
When death comes to strike, who can survive?
He dissolved himself in Chet Singh's sorrow.
Now let's turn to Kanwar Nau Nihal Singh.
He did not shed a single tear on his father's death.
o Shah Mohammed! lhe death of Kaur, nay of many more.
God-in-heaven decreed and sent his messengers thither.

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9
They lifted Kharak Singh's bier on their shoulders
For the cremation-Hre to consume his body.
When Dharma Raj heard this news,
He forthwith sent his messengers to fulfIl the God's command.
The messengers descended as fast as they could
As the death got ready to strike.
o Shah Mohammed! See how the curse operated,
The fates of Udham Singh and the Kaur were sealed in no time.

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10
A messenger of death in a flash as if
Perched on the balcony of the gate they were to pass under.
He had to fulftl in full
The bidding of the Highest, even though cruel.
And as they were returning to the palace,
Collapsed the balcony, smothering them in full.
o Shah Mohammed! While Udham Singh died on the spot,
The Kaur was extricated from the debris, almost dead.

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11
For full one day 'twas kept a secret
Until Rani Chand Kaur reached the scene.
She had shed no tears for Kharak Singh, her husband;
She had come, however, to bewail the death of her son.
"Now when he is dead, cremate him forthwith.
You had no business to delay the whole thing that long."
o Shah Mohammed! Thus howled and ranted Chand Kaur
Whose lion-like warrior son lay there, dead.

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(76)
12
Someone conveyed to Sher Singh this black news,
Who had lost his brother and nephew in this manner.
Post-haste he shot forth from Batala,
Caring little for rain or shine; night or day.
And as he entered the city of Lahore
He lost all restraint, weeping like a child.
o Shah Mohammed! The kinsmen console one another
in such an hour,
But not Chand Kaur, so vindictive had she turned.

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13
Secretly she had stationed four armed men with orders:
"If ever Sher Singh enters the fort,
Unload your deadly carbines on him
So that he falls dead that very moment.II
But the Raja had sent a message to Sher Singh:
"You do not enter the portals of the dead.
o Shah Mohammed! You are not so strong at this time.
Wait for the moment when I invite you."

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14
Chand Kaur was not clean in her conscience.
'Twas treachery and treachery all the way.
Sher Singh immediately left Lahore
And went to Mukerian to set himself up there.
In the meanwhile, Chand Kaur ascended the throne,
Egged on by her courtiers and sycophants :
o Shah Mohammed! "Another prince won't be born.
The forts, the cities and the people are all yours."

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(82)
15
The Raja took the anny into confidence
With, verily, one question: How to invite Sher Singh ?
"He is a warrior son of the Sarkar and victor of several battles.
Let's work out how to make him ascend the throne."
The anny only too eager to oblige him said: "Raja ji, you think best.
Just name anyone and we shall salute him.
o Shah Mohammed! Let a word drop from your august mouth
And it shall be fulfilled that very moment."

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16
For twenty-two days, the Raja proceeded on leave,
His entourage leaving for Jammu, bag and baggage.
But before that, he wrote a letter to Sher Singh,
"I've set the stage for you to come.
Make your triumphant entry into Lahore with the beat of drum.
All the Sardars shall greet you on arrival."
o Shah Mohammed! All the officers shall receive you
As soon as you as much as near the city"

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17
On reading this missive, Sher Singh, the lion,
Moved with his forces forthwith towards Lahore.
The horses neighed as the bugles blared
And the dust they kicked up, formed clouds in the sky.
He camped near 'Buddhu Ka Aava'
Where armies set themselves up for the fmal assault.
o Shah Mohammed! The Darbar officers themselves came thither.
And it became a famous tete-a-tete in Lahore.



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18
From 'Buddhu ka Aava' Sher Singh and his annies marched,
With great alacrity and promptitude, towards Lahore.
The Darbar armies themselves saw them through
The defences of the citadel of Lahore.
Simply irresistible was the warrior prince
As he laid seige to the Lahore fort.
o Shah Mohammed! The defenders not being able to contain him,
Were obliged to offer him the crown ofPunjab.

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19
Sher Singh, on ascending the throne,
Held Rani Chand Kaur captive in the fort.
See how God had made Sher Singh the king,
See how he had become the overlord of the dominion.
But not a year passed when he felt uncomfortable in his heart
About Rani Chand Kaur, held in captivity.
o Shah Mohammed! Only after having removed
the Rani from the scene,
Could Sher Singh rule in peace.

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20
Thus, God had made Sher Singh the king,
He having usurped the throne of the Rani.
The Sandhawalias too had lost their foothold in Lahore.
And harsh were the paths they had to traverse.
Again, Ajit Singh hatched a conspiracy to kill Sher Singh
As truly he was the son of a bitch.
o Shah Mohammed! Seldom is there born an Ali Akbar,
The son who redeems his father and restores him to his lost throne.
";(0
m en) -;)

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21
The maids that had killed Rani Chand Kauf,
Duly were summoned in the presence of the Raja.
In order to cover up the crime and placate the Singhs
He had their noses and ears chopped off.
This accomplished, he ordered the sentries
Not to let them be out of the jail.
o Shah Mohammed! In addition, the maids were
divesred
And had themselves humiliated by the blackening of their faces.

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22
Two years later, Ajit Singh had the king to inspect a guard of honour,
He stationed his troops at Bilawal near Lahore.
He came thither with a carbine of a foreign make.
Overtly, he wanted to show it to the king and win applause.
But just as the Prince raised his eyes,
He pressed the trigger and let go the fIre.
o Shah Mohammed! Sher Singh gasped for life, lying on the floor
When Ajit Singh severed his head with a sword.

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23
Now Lehna Singh, Ajit's brother, turned towards the garden
Where Prince Partap Singh was going through a religious ceremony.
When he saw the Sardar intent upon killing him,
The prince begged for mercy in the name of God.
"I shall setve you loyally all my life, 0 Uncle."
He beseeched him with folded hands and in many more ways.
o Shah Mohammed! To no entreaty did Lehna Singh listen.
He just beheaded the young Prince with a sword.

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(100)
24
After killing Sher Singh and his son in this manner
The two Sandhawalias marched upon Lahore.
When on the way they met Dhian Singh, said Ajit :
"We have fInished Sher Singh and his lineage."
Then humouring the Raja with polite words,
they brought him to the fort.
For such was indeed their cunning and treachery.
o Shah Mohammed! Those who had killed Chand Kaur,
Were shown little mercy; they all got beheaded.

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2S
Gunnukh Singh Giani then asked the Sandhawalias:
"Why have you to leave Ohian Singh alive?"
Mehar Ghasita intervened to endorse it;
"Nothing better can we do now."
As if this was a good enough hint, an orderly shot Ohian Singh,
Making him snap his last link with life.
o Shah Mohammed! As he lay dying on the floor,
They summoned the young prince Dalip Singh to their presence.


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26
With the Raja's blood they annointed his forehead
And circumambulated around him four times, saying:
"We've done all this for your sake only.
We pray to God always to protect you.
We don't know what's going to happen the very next moment.
For, none knows who will be there to partake of the food to-night.
o Shah Mohammed! Let anyone cast an evil eye on you.
And despatched to the other world he shall be that very moment."

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27
When Hira Singh came to know the fate of his father,
Forthwith he summoned all the loyal officers.
Then, with the beat of drum, he took the troops with him
And seething with rage, he made his entry into the city.
The fme Rajput that he was,
He fought the Sandhawalias with reckless valour.
o Shah Mohammed! Ajit Singh was killed in the battle itself.
While Lehna Singh they caught in trying to escape.

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28
Both the sides that day were led as if by a death-wish.
With blinding ferocity they measured swords with each other.
Now had Sher Singh been living, he wouldn't have let it happen;
For, what actually happened destroyed the whole country.
The Raja too was a protector of the people.
His removal from the scene brought endless troubles in its wake.
o Shah Mohammed! Not each killed the other but himself,
For, many a great warrior fell in that unfortunate action.

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29
Everyone sings the lays of Dulla Bhatti
As also the feats of ]airnal and Phatta
In the harem of Mir Dad Khan Chauhan
The queens had committed suicide by knifmg themselves.
But never had anyone done what the Sandhawalias had done.
They had put to sword the very court they were required to serve
o Shah Mohammed! They died a warrior nevertheless.
They did not spare even their own lives.

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30
In the end, did everyone feel the difference
As all the Sardars began soberly to -think : What to do?
For, the real power now lay in the hands of louts
As the rule of jungle replaced the rule of law.
The rogues that with impunity can kill the kings,
Tell me, whose authority shall they ever respect?
o Shah Mohammed! The sword was now the sole arbiter
And not a single swish of it went without its prey.

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31
There was a very venerable Sardar in the Panth,
The one who could see the writing on the wall.
He deliberated in his mind upon the deteriorating situation.
That many a head would still roll here, he sunnised.
Lehna Singh was a patriarch of the Majithia clan
And was, verily, an epitome of wisdom.
o Shah Mohammed! He chose to go on a long pilgrimage
After leaving behind every involv.ement of his.

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32
Dalip Singh, the child king was no more than a dummy on the
throne,
As Hira Singh now wielded the real authority.
One lalla was now chosen a guide and mentor of the king,
But lalla couldn't care less for anyone in the kingdom.
On every possible tum, he would pour scorn on his royal ward,
Besides wholly unpredictable was he in what he might do.
o Shah Mohammed! lalla became, verily, a tormentor of the Panth,
And this destroyed his benefactor Hira Singh in the bargain.

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33
The Singhs now petitioned to Suchet Singh,
"The tormentor of us all, lalla, is not the right man.
Reach here early to take over Prime Ministership,
The Khalsa is just waiting for you."
The kings, as a rule, like nothing better than governance;
And Hira Singh? He is merely the son of a Sharik.
o Shah Mohammed! "Pray, cut the nose of Jalla.
Let him leave the scene, fully humiliated."

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34
No sooner did the Raja receive the letter,
Than his joy knew no bounds.
Said he to himself: "I've to reach Lahore post-haste."
He, therefore, immediately had the mounts ready.
He stationed his troops at Manji Kakrin
And then handpicked only twenty-two of his soldiers.
o Shah Mohammed! With them, thus, he reached Lahore,
And set up his camp at Mianmir, the main cantonment.


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35
Hira Singh, as he came to know of his Uncle's arrival,
Quickly placated the anny and set his house in order.
Now the Singhs made a somersault, asking the Raja to go back,
For, he was not the man to control the army.
Replied he : "Singhji ! It's now difficult for me to return to Jammu,
The daughters of Rajputs will tease and taunt me no end."
o Shah Mohammed! "See, he has come back with
Prime Ministership,
Will be the common refrain of all the hill belles.'

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36
Collecting the heavy guns and taking the army with him,
Hira Singh now took the field against his real uncle.
When he found himself thorougWy encircled,
Suchet Singh took out the naked sword, flashing in his hand.
He took only Bhim Singh and Kesari Singh with him,
As he jumped fearlessly into that cauldron of fIre.
o Shah Mohammed! Thus, he won the admiration of the Singhs,
He fought againtst all odds with such a lionine courage.

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37
But soon the Singhs again got fed up with Jalla.
They now harboured great anger in their hearts.
Previously their wages were seven or eight rupees a month.
Forcibly they had them revised to twelve rupees.
Over and above, many demanded rewards in terms of gold
To adorn their necks with garlands of Buktis
a Shah Mohammed! To have Jalla killed
Each unit of army Panchayat summoned its meeting.

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(128)
38
Hira Singh had on the move elephants,
Laden with troves of solid gold.
Towards Jammu he now repaired,
With the hope that the Singhs would beseech him to return.
But no substitute is strategy for wisdom,
And thereby he had dug his own grave.
For, 0 Shah Mohammed! The Singhs soon caught up with him,
With guns and muskets, spitting deadly flre.



u 3T'Fft m,

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3llR m
! fi:r8 B oN,
1=JR I
(129)
=3t
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fi:fur nTl
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(30)
39
After killing both Hira Singh and Jalla
Elevated they Jawahar Singh to Prime Ministership.
They then turned upon Jammu,
Rampaging the countIY far and wide.
They brought Gulab Singh to Lahore in chains,
Demanding gold necklaces (Kantbas) in reward.
o Shah Mohammed! "We'll now have bangles (Karas),"
They bluntly told Jawahar Singh on return.

mr all' q;l "Jffi
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(31)
80
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(32)
40
What great depredations did they cause,
For whosoever sat on the throne had to be their puppet.
They demanded necklaces and bangles in addition to the enhanced
pay.
Gone were the days when they were content with five or seven.
Some would even loot the city and its Bazaars instead.
o Shah Mohammed! Such had become the ways of Majhails
and mercenaries,
They would have their demands met on the tip of their shoes.
3lA Sl(ffi,
6(fCf)¥Oi m, 1=JR:

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(33)
8ct
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mft }{TO HPWI
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(34)
41
For just the absence of one Sarkar
Anarchy, loot and pillage became the order of the day.
The Singhs had so wholly demoralised the chiefs and generals,
That each one appeared destined to be killed in his tum.
No leash now held the Singhs in check,
like a herd of ostriches they would run in any direction.
o Shah Mohammed! The Sardars now sought safety in hiding,
As these evil spirits ganged up just ready to strike.

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(135)

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(36)
42
Soon Jawahar Singh became the target of their ire,
Their foreheads being furrowed like those of murderers.
Summoned, he came to meet them with Dalip Singh in his lap;
But as soon as he arrived, he was bayonetted and injured.
Then on a spear was he lifted straight from the elephant,
And from the howda thrown on the ground.
o Shah Mohammed! For mercy did he beg them;
But mercy they did show by just beheading him.

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(37)

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(138)
43
The Mai herself had been interned in her tent.
When she wept and wailed, asked they: "Whom are you calling?
Who is your sympathiser here to listen to your baleful cries?
Whom are you making these tearful appeals?
What's our crime? Have we killed a Sardar's son?
If not, then for whom should you be crying so bitterly?
o Shah Mohammed! On the contrary reward us suitably.
For, you are now ruling over Punjab by virtue of our might."


• +11l? 1
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q;y tkT -m +lRT
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! 31Gf -q
mt q;y m- mi"
(39)
88
lrel crr<!l ft::ftr c}a+,
fonf *oH'SOd n".p- f7i"3' I
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ft:rn US'I
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(140)
44
While grieving, Rani Jind Kaur remained mulling in her head:
"How shall I strive to do away with these armed, evil men?
They have butchered my brother in my very presence-
The one who himself had once commanded a thousand horse.
Shall I seek the help of the Feringhee?
Whom shall I tum to in order to smash and smother them?
o Shah Mohammed! I shall gladly give away my life to anyone -
Who for me avenges the murder of Jawahar Singh."
'6'6
1FT-1FT m <{ men,
"fur cnm -B" Cfl<1nllli ?
m 11m em mr,

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(141)
84
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(142)
4S
"With angry, bloodshot eyes they singe me from all sides,
For nothing do they demand rewards and twelve rupees.
If I am aJat's daughter then I shall have the whole Punjab widowed.
Desolation shall reign supreme over this entire land.
They shall not be left honourable enough to enter Lahore-
Not just the officers but also the subalterns.
Their corpses shall rot in the foreign lands,
o Shah Mohammed! So thoroughly shall
I have this Desh destroyed."

am -f) 'ffi,


m 'ffi -mu;

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• qUem: -mu;

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(143)
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(144)
46
"Those who butchered my brother so very cold-bloodedly
I shall have them dragged by their sacred long hair, I swear.
Their cries shall be heard in far-off London
When they too are butchered like sheep and goat.
Countless shall be the women to have become widows then,
Shorn off all their jewellery and ornaments.
o Shah Mohammed! A great cry of sorrow shall rant the air,
When the daughters of Punjab so lose their husbands."

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(146)
47
So, sent she a secret message to the Feringhee:
"First, I shall sacrifice my comfort and my happiness;
Then I shall send my army into your territory,
For you to smash brains out of their skulls.
While you shall leave no stone unturned to decimate them,
I shall see to it that they don't get supplies on the battlefield.
o Shah Mohammed! I don't want them to return alive.
In fact, this is the wish of my heart too."

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(147)
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mt it:r *
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(l48)
48
"First, you shall capture all our enclaves across Satluj.
This shall anger the Singhs suffidently to retaliate.
Those alone shall fight who are uninfonned or foolish.
The Sardars shall not take up arms against you.
Over and above, I've sown seeds of dissention among the ranks.
Even so, some may behave differently but only by accident.
o Shah Mohammed! This way 0 Lord,
I shall settle all my quarrels and so be quits."

1:JR cfl
mfc:f;" 1R;
m,


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(l49)
at
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(50)
49
In London, on receiving this message, the Company Sahib
Threw an open challenge as to which Lord would fight.
The gauntlet was picked by the Tunda Lat,
Bragged he: "I shall go to fight the Singhs.
I shall conquer Lahore in a matter of three hours.
And I swear there shall be no resiling from this solemn word.
o Shah Mohammed! Thus I shall enter the city of Lahore,
On the thirteenth day of Phagun. n

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(51)
40
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ft .... A .::h.."",
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(52)
50
With drums, tamborines and bugles;
With umbrellas, tents, barracks and flags;
With blankets, carriages, palanquins and guns;
With binoculars and telescopes and warships-
The Tunda Lat moved eastward from London
To set up his great canlp in the battlefield.
oShah Mohammed! 'Twas the White, indeed who started the game
By confiscating the Punjab enclaves across the river.


f.:mA
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ap; ! TftU "4" >ilT 'Cfl1,
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(53)
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(154)
51
The French received secret instructions from the palace
To move forthwith in the direction of Kashmir.
They protested in the name of both God and man
But the Mai was in no mood to listen.
"The trans-Satluj territory has been taken over by the Company;
We shall beat the pulp out of their brains.
o Shah Mohammed! The Feringhee are coming from all directions
And we've to check their advance this very moment."

emffi· cnT 3lTGIT,
"g;«'[ e:tl:? IOf1 '( lfi<;rr"t,;
c); ";J amrr,
";J W dCflc{l'(
fiR

! awl WI 'ifl,

(55)

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=
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-
0l8:an l1tJCl,
"faT fur :oT<ihi ?)T mI
tit
fa<:j+ mI
(56)
52
The Mai now ordered the army to move and said:
"The city must be fully defended.
The Musalmaan forces shall protect it.
The cavalry is not to be bottled up.
The Kalagiwa/as shall fight in the vanguard;
The rest of the army shall be in reserve;
o Shah Mohammed! Those whose pay is thirteen rupees a month,
Shall take most brunt of the enemy fury."




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k3l1<?1:g1 # m,

! f-i1'1CfiI etA
b1¥4:g1'1 "CfiT I
(157)

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(158)
53
Then summoning the entire Panth, she addressed them thus:
"All the money-chests of the kingdom are empty.
The enemy country up to the Yamuna is denuded of defences,
You can loot the British territory howsoever you will.
Conquer cities like Ferozepur and Ludhiana,
Uprooting the company fortifications as best as you may.
o Shah Mohammed! Return victorious in your best ever tradition;
And I shall reward you with Karas and Kanthas."

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"w:
3TU8RJ -m t
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(59)
1.48
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n "' f. § "'
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J:rT8T 1rel ~ msl UT3" )-fl1ft I
..
(160)
54
Inspired, the Singhs pledged: "We shall fight to the last.
You shall have to keep us informed of all what happens.
We shall serve you with our lives, we swear,
Unmindful of whether it's rain or it's sun."
The Singhs could not understand the devious game,
That the Mai was out to play in order to destroy them.
o Shah Mohammed! They just didn't know
That the hunger-whetting rice bowl was, in fact, empty within.

mer mur 1R
. ,

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m,
mer of.rq; m
WIT "<tT
Jffiug, ! m'iIRT
-quo, I
(161)
44
ft!3l HTEt Fe8aa1 groT,
mu.r nl W
wmr -e- nl R9 arn+,
fuR "JTO fuR
fucx W il3T,
UfO -e-
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(162)
55
Charmed and baited by the Rani in such away,
The Singhs felt flattered and charged up as never before.
Everything's in the hands of God alone;
Some He grants victory and some the shame of defeat.
With one Lakh sons and one-and-a-quarter lakh grandsons,
Even the invincible Ravana got killed when betrayed by an insider.
o Shah Mohammed! The whole world knew it fully well
That many a warrior was to fall in the battlefield.
to.to.
CfIT,

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at)t

UCfUT llU CfC.IT? if
!

(163)
4E
ft:fucT wWW ofup-,
* m,
=
fuq 1l lri,
fuq ur;ft }fT(J Q'3 I Jl e mI
mo fifur ;lfr l)fHT otiT
cRt OT 3" urore mI
}fT(J
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-J. .;.. .Ie-I .. J jJ j
(164)
56
The Singhs got together and the congregation swore in a Gurmatta,
"We shall go and kill the Feringhee.
If ever they meet us in the battle,
In no time we shall do away with them.
We didn't spare the venerable Bhai Bir Singh
Feringhee are simply foredoomed as we never can be defeated.
o Shah Mohammed! After making a mince-meat of them at
Ludhiana,
We shall surely march into Delhi."

fCfic:Jr 1Vhll -Q:m,
3lTaTI q;) "JlR: 3lTlt;

II "tJR 3lTlt;
";{
";{ Cfi'lT
! 1
cfi csfrq 3lTlt I"
(165)

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i

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(166)
57
"We shall forefeit all the belongings the Feringhees have.
We shall bring back treasures in measures of maunds.
After that, we shall enter the women's quarters,
We shall bring here all the Feringhee women in chains.
Just as Ali Akbar, the Pathan, had done in Kabul,
We are sure to cut them into pieces, wholesale.
o Shah Mohammed! We shall get gold necklaces in reward
As also the brocaded fme silk apparel."
t..\9
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(167)
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58
Flags fluttered as the bugles played the marching tunes,
And the great waniors moved out with a rare elan.
Sons of Sardars, bubbling with youth and enthusiasm,
Emerged as the lion-cubs shoot forth from their dens.
All the Majhails as also all the Doabias marchedforward, step-in-step,
Conquerers as they were of many an impregnable fort.
o Shah Mohammed! Moved out also the fearsome batteries
and heavy guns.
When the orders were issued, none stayed behind.

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59
Sham Singh, the hoary general, moved out from his headquarters;
As also the ]allawalias, the heroes of many a legend.
All the Rajput kings too descended from their mountain haunts -
Those who had unblemished reputation as swordsmen.
The Majhails and the Doabias came marching, closing their ranks,
As the Sandhawalias came, on their haughty mounts.
o Shah Mohammed! Also moved out the fearsome Akal Regiment
With flashing naked swords taken out from scabbards.

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60
Mahmud Ali marched out from his Majha country,
Taking awesome artillery pieces out of the city.
The brigade of Sultan Mahmud also came out,
With invincible Imam Shahi guns in tow.
Elahi Baksh brought out his guns after polishing them,
And showing them worshipful burning incense sticks.
o Shah Mohammed! In such a way did the guns shine,
As if these were the flashes of lightning, out to dispel darkness.
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61
On hearing the news of the Feringhee coming, not one stayed behind.
From every direction came marching one unit or the other.
Not even one stayed behind for the auspicious moment had come.
They were just leading or following one another.
Before them stood the Feringhee so adept in the use of guns;
And they were no bangle-jingling maidens.
o Shah Mohammed! Even if one were to counsel otherwise,
Could one stop such an awesome array of armies from colliding?

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62
All the fine youngmen from the city of Lahore,
Marched out beating drums and making war-cries.
The two rivers could not slow their progress.
And in no time they ferried across to Ferozepur.
Where the Feringhee line stood pitted against them.
Now certain it was that not a few heads would roll on either side.
o Shah Mohammed! None was so coward as to run away from
action.
When warriors face warriors, tell me who can retract?
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63
Allover Hindustan were heard great explosions of the battles to
come,
Which rocked Delhi and Agra; Hansi and Hissarj
Bikaner and Lucknow; and Ajmer and Jaipur.
People across the Yamuna started running in panic.
The entire Punjab appeared to be on the offensive-
As no count was possible of those joining the action.
oShah Mohammed! None could be stopped in that blinding storm.
The Singhs now appeared determined to conquer Delhi.

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64
The Feringhee wrote to the Khalsa:
"Why are you bent upon fighting like this?
We had a pact with your late Maharaja.
Then, why are you now stoking the dying embers?
You can take any amount of wealth from us;
If ever you wanted more, you would get it.
o Shah Mohanuned ! We are determined to defend our interests.
Why, for nothing, should you expend so much energy and
resources ?"

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65
Wrote back the Singhs to the Feringhee :
"We are sworn to kill you in the open battle.
We look with disdain at the money you offer us-
Even if it be a whole mountain piled up before us.
The Panth that conquered Jammu not long ago
Has now turned up to take you on.
a Shah Mohammed! You put your guns in front
And send your chosen soldiers to measure swords with us."

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66
Panches of all the platoons wrote to the ranks :
"Our arms shall move on the offensive today.
We had killed the venerable Bir Singh by using guns.
You can see we do not spare even men of God.
Didn't we conquer all the forts around?
Didn't we level the citadels of Bhatinda and Kulu?
o Shah Mohammed! That alone shall happen
Which the Panth, in its wisdom, wills and decrees."
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67
With the help of telescopes, the Feringhee scanned far and wide,
Counting all the armies arrayed against them.
They located the position of batteries and guns;
They pinpointed with accuracy the contours of each fortification.
And having done that, they distributed wine among soldiers-
Each one two bottles of the devil's own brew.
o Shah Mohammed! After consuming alcohol,
The devil in Tommies instantly got ready for the offensive.

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68
There is a village by the name of Mudki
Where a moat filled with water separated the armies.
The freshly-recruited Akali horsemen
Had just planted their flags in the battlefield,
When the Feringhee guns started booming
And the bones and flesh of the warriors began to fall apart.
o Shah Mohammed! The Singhs had to beat a retreat,
Leaving behind their guns for the enemy to capture.
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69
Regrouping in the camps, resolve they did:
"On Sunday we shall flash our swords and go on the offensive.
We have been waiting only for Teja Singh,
We shall not fight until he arrives.
But when he finally does
We shall not spare our lives.
o Shah Mohammed! Then launching a frontal offensive
We shall emerge victorious, destroying the enemy, root and
branch."

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70
When Teja Singh did make his entry on the scene
Along with all the ranking officers of his staff, they said:
"Give us orders to take out our swords."
The suppressed anger of the soldiers was apparent in these words.
Hungry falcons had sighted the heipless doves.
"Now you shall see how we prey upon them."
o Shah Mohammed! After obtaining orders from Teja Singh,
They worked out plans to go on the offensive.
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71
The entire battlefield around Pheru Shahr
Got fllied with big guns like ordinary muskets.
The Singhs fought with such reckless valour,
That the Feringhee were soon reeling under.
The Tunda Lat then with great anger in his heart,
Ordered his soldiers to beat retreat.
o Shah Mohammed! London was filled with widows that day
As the Singhs started scything through the Feringhee line.

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(196)
72
Regrouping the troops, the Tunda Lat appealed :
"The honour of England is in your hands.
The Singhs have destroyed everything before them.
They've not even spared Hindustani units, whether from South or
East,
The British Isles are full of sorrow today.
Full four thousand soldiers have perished in action.II
o Shah Mohammed! The Lat roared :
"Its our tum now to taste the blood of the Singhs.1I

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73
Exhorted thus, the Feringhee now went on the offensive.
They brought their guns astride the river.
They burnt all the magazines and munitions they had,
The Singhs now started to run pell mel!.
They also left behind their tents and chow/daries.
Not one thing now remained to be defended.
o Shah Mohammed! The Feringhee stood resolute and fmn.
They did not resile from the battle they had won.

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(200)
74
But the Feringhee too saw the sony spectacle
Of their soldiers retreating and showing their backs.
After the great guns had fallen silent,
The battle of the small ann raged furiously.
Someone came and infonned the Feringhee:
"Your London is now no more than a widow.
o Shah Mohammed! Just go and see in the battlefield,
How the Tommies have lost their lives as also their honour."


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75
Pahara Singh was the friend of the Feringhee.
For, he bore enmity to the Singhs.
He left the field to tell the Lat
What, in fact, was a great secret :
'tThe Khalsa too have beaten a retreat,
Taking in their two hands only the deer skin.
o Shah Mohammed! The Singhs have left bag and baggage-
Leaving the empty field for you to conquer."

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(204)
76
This gave the Feringhee as if a new heart.
The fire balls started to rain afresh.
Huge smoke clouds billowed as structures clattered and creaked.
'Twas like the Kauravas and Pandavas releasing their arrows.
When the Feringhee thus showed their fangs
Not a few lost their nerve as also their lives.
o Shah Mohammed! The Feringhee won the day,
Capturing one hundred and twenty-three guns in the battle.
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(206)
77
When the fear had gripped them, in hushed tones
Did the young and inexperienced cavalryman talk:
"Now that Feringhees have beaten us hollow
Why not make good our escape at midnight?
Had we taken to farming, we would've had enough to eat.
After all, whose sons are we but farmers'?
o Shah Mohammed! We've land and irrigation wells.
Now with gusto we shall plough the fields again."
\9\9
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(207)
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(208)
78
Those who survived were simply overwhelmed
With pangs of hunger and bodily exhaustion.
"The Tommies are pursuing us like Jinns-
The same ones we thought were spineless jelly-fIsh.
We had put our hand in the honeycomb to milk the honey
Instead, the honey bees stung us, incensed."
o Shah Mohammed! There was no escape route left
Which the renegades could take to repair to safety.
\9{'
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(209)
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(210)
79
"We had set out from our homes to kill the Feringhee.
But in the bargain lost our own cannon.
We disturbed the hornet's nest to get into trouble.
Not only did we lose the battle but also the honour.
We've lost the city we lived in happily;
We ourselves handed over its keys to the enemy.
o Shah Mohammed! Everywhere the people tease and taunt us :
'Singhji, What a great victory you have won!' "

m CfiT
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(211)
t:o
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(212)
80
They reached their homes to take refuge
Some for a night and some for two.
But soon the Sardars summoned them back:
"Wherever there be a soldier, he should report back.
Where'll you hide yourselves, 0 Khalsaji?
Tell us: if there's an inch of space left for you?
o Shah Mohammed! Firmly unite again for the battle.
The tents in your camps are only waiting for you.·

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(213)
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(214)
81
When the armies gathered again on the Punjab side of the river
They were told that they were in action and not on leave.
There was a lot of breast-beating in the camp.
There was no fresh recruitment, nor was there a buyer for the grain.
After hours of idling, come back they would to their posts
To be able to partake of the food available at the camp.
o Shah Mohammed! Each little act of their bravery became known
to all.
For, the oft-repeated refrain was : 'Tell us Singhji what happened
at Ludhiana
l
?

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(215)

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(216)
82
Sardar Ranjodh Singh, along with his soldiers,
Now moved swiftly from Ladwa
Where several of his kinsmen were being held captive,
Having been sent thither by the Feringhee.
He snatched away whatever he could lay his hands on
As there was none to contain his fury.
o Shah Mohammed! He burnt down the Feringhee encampment,
Whose neIVe for a time did utterly collapse.

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(217)

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(218)
83
Mewa Singh came down with four platoons in tow.
The Singhs once again took up the arms;
They killed many a Feringhee soldier;
They looted numberless posts and camps of
Guns, camels, provision-laden elephants and horses-
The Singhs captured and unloaded them in their camp.
o Shah Mohammed! Had the Singhs really pressed forward,
They might have on that day taken Ludhiana.



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(219)
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(220)
84
Mohkam Din Sardar too wrote to say:
"You've looted some useful things in good measure.
Send them all straight to us-
So, these can be put to proper use in the battlefield.
You are victorious today with God's abundant grace.
The news of this victory has reached all the world over.
a Shah Mohammed! When enemy is around,
It's always better to keep your presence of mind."

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(221)
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(222)
8S
Ludhiana was a good sixty miles away.
But the Feringhee Lat covered that distance in just one night.
He invested and looted the victorious Sikh camp.
He snatched away everything and destroyed it.
The brunt was borne by the Avitabile forces
Which fought a furious action for quite a few hours.
oShah Mohammed! While the Sikh camp had been fully ransacked,
There was no explanation of what had actually gone wrong.
0"
me m \ill
mf-mf 3lR men;


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(223)
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(224)
86
The very fIrst onslaught and the Singhs started running,
Retreating in a wholly bedraggled condition.
They had lost everything sans the tatters they wore.
To feel warm, they hugged their chests with own crossed arms.
When the people at large asked them about the battle,
Sheepishly they kept their tongues well behind their teeth.
o Shah Mohammed! When they reached their homes-
Their families had virtually to reclothe them.
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(225)
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(226)
87
Said many, "We shall never go thither in our lives;
We shall never engage that scourge in the battle;
We shall spend our days somewhere in hiding,
However our comrades try to persuade us.
You say that we captured Ludhiana.
No. Each one fended for oneself. Rudderless.
o Shah Mohammed! Beware of them - the Feringhee.
Those who haven't fought them yet, would know it to their cost."

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(227)
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(228)
88
In the meanwhile, the Sardars met and passed a Gurmatta.
"0 friends! Have your senses examined;
It's the doings of the vandals that have cost us the battle.
Now the question is: How best to save our honour.
The Punjab was strong as long as the fISt was closed;
Now they (the uncouth soldiers) have opened it and exposed us.
o Shah Mohammed! We shall die here, fighting
So that the cause of Punjab remains undefeated."

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(229)
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(230)
89
For the third time, the Feringhee challenged and attacked
With drums and tamburines trumpeting.
The Singhs too girded up their loins
As they got ready to give battle to the Feringhee.
The Feringhee mounted pressure on the left flank.
The armies got berserk and fought.
o Shah Mohammed! Where could they go to save their lives?
For, lahore was far - too far from there.

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(231)
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(232)
90
The Feringhee once again attacked after heavy bombardment.
But the Singhs repulsed them with very heavy losses.
Both Mewa Singh and Maghe Khan took them head on.
Three attacks of the Feringhee were broken and beaten back.
Sham Singh, the honourable Sardar of Atari,
Was resplendent in the battlefield despite his years.
o Shah Mohammed! In that blinding action
The Singhs spilled the Feringhee blood like squeezing ripe limes.

ffi qk,i I q:;) 'B \iIGl 71ft,
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(233)
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... ....
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(234)
91
The Feringhee regrouped and attacked again
Where the French-trained soldiers and Cbaryari cavalary was.
They advanced in an arc-like fonnation.
But it was indeed a very difficult battle for the Khalsa.
For, Teja Singh had destroyed the bridge from behind
So that the army could not even retreat.
a Shah Mohammed! They could only die and earn martyrdom,
Unmindful of what happened to their lives.
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(235)

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(236)
92
The battle of Hind and Punjab now raged furiously.
On both sides were ranged huge numbers.
Had the Sarkar been alive today, he would have certainly valued
The reckless bravery the Khalsa showed on the field that day.
Not just the men, elephants too got blown up
As they fell on the ground along with the bowdas.
o Shah Mohammed! But for one Sardar
The forces lost the battle they, in fact, had won.


G:AT am: ?it m
3lT'iT ma or

3nfct4f
fTrof -qffi
! -am mc::R cfl

(237)

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(238)
93
Each one killed many a soldier before he fell,
Resplendent as blood-dripping sword flashed in his hand.
Those who remained were encircled to be drowned in the river
As the Feringhee rained cannon balls into the water.
Not a few regretted: Why did we join anny,
Just on the advice and prompting of the friends?
o Shah Mohammed! Pray, God never bring us back
to fight the Feringhee,n
They were heard saying this only to themselves.


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! ';J

(239)

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(240)
94
Many a mother lost her son-
Her heart having been pierced with bayonets.
The sisters who were never to meet their brothers again,
Were left to weep like helpless creatures.
The wives who lost their protectors in the world
Now roamed with loosened hair just as apparitions.
o Shah Mohammed! Many a noble too had perished,
Leaving the kingdom wholly orphaned.


'tR

Wit 4-qIRl4i
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(241)
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(242)
95
Now Rani Jind Kaur wrote forthwith to the Lat:
"You shall not take a minute longer
To deal with the remaining soldiers in a suitable manner-
For, you alone can handle this unruly lot.
You and God alone are my protectors.
Station a contingent of your soldiers in Lahore.
o Shah Mohammed! I stand fully avenged today.
The rest now I leave to God."

*m f* Cfi'h:
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(243)
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(244)
96
On hearing from the Rani, the Feringhee rebuilt the bridge.
After crossing the river, they plundered the countryside.
They entered Lahore with so much joy in their hearts.
As victorious notes flowed from their bands, announcing their
arrival.
First, Itwas the Pathans who greeted them with presents,
Then the headmen of the kingdom extended them a befitting
welcome.
o Shah Mohammed! On their way to Lahore,
They had divested all the towns and villages of their riches.

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(245)
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97
Raja Gulab Singh paid obeisance to the Lat with all obsequiousness,
He brought him into Lahore, holding him by the arm.
"0 Sahib! Have mercy on US,ff
By saying such meek words, he was serving none but himself.
He had all the Malvais and Doabias removed from the army,
Thus, weakening the Khalsa beyond retrieval.
o Shah Mohammed! After getting Kashmir in the bargain,
Gulab Singh repaired forthwith to Jammu.

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98
In this way, the Feringhee became the protector of the Mai.
They stationed their own contingents in Lahore.
They assumed the overlordship of the trans-Satluj regions.
Establishing their advanced post in Phillaur.
They took over the control of Lahore and Ferozepur.
Besides apportioning the revenues accruing from the trade
route of Nanda Chor.
o Shah Mohammed! Kangra too was usurped.
In short, they did everything a thief does.

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99
The remaining country too fell into the lap of the Feringhee
For, such were the orders they now promulgated.
The Mai sacked the Punjab army.
The ranks were demobbed as a consequence.
The country now passed into the hands of Company functionaries.
As well as of the sons of men of means.
o Shah Mohammed! One should behold the achievement
of Rani Jind Kaur.
Who broke the country and destroyed it wholesale.

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100
Such a consummate act did the Rani play
Two governments now together ruled over Punjab.
She had the country locked into knots, remaining herself high and
city
Thus in no time avenging herself of her brothers assassination.
She had her courtiers downgraded as well,
Throwing away the army into the floods of the river.
a Shah Mohammed! So wagged the tongues all over,
"She broke the claims of all pretenders and imposters."

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101
Only after the event, the truth dawned upon the Singhs
Of what deadly stuff was the Mai made.
"See! How she first marginalised us.
And then had us downgraded, beyond repair.
She pursued the revenge to the bitterest end.
Even then, she didn't let us retire to the peace of our homes.
o Shah Mohammed! We've lost our arms as well as our honour.
Today, not the resplendent uniform but a humble Kurti covers us."

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102
From the day one, women have had their way.
For, they alone account for why Rama lost his sway.
The Kauravas and Pandavas too suffered at their hands
Full eighteen armies perished in the Kurukshetra sands.
They bridled even Raja Bhoj, the wisest ever king
With their toes they mauled and befuddled him, in the ring.
o Shah Mohanuned ! No wonder then that the queen Jind Kaur-
Had the entire country laid waste in its darkest hour.


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103
God willing, good things shall happen again.
What if the soldiers have lost the lustre of their mien?
Great commonalitydoes exist betweenthe Hindu andthe Musalmaan.
None should ever dare break this common silken bond.
The new rulers have no ear for anyone.
Drunk with themselves oblivious theyre of our pain
o Shah Mohammed! All wealth is today garnered
By sons of moneylenders and gumasbtas in the main.

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104
TIlls entire sad drama, with my eyes, I've seen.
But who knows what's in the future's lap supreme.
Does one know what's to happen the next moment?
Everyone does grope, waiting for light in God's scheme.
The new generation among themselves did confabulate
The Feringhee's might we've seen as we deem.
o Shah Mohammed! None can ever be sure
What more things upon us are yet to beam.

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105
'Twas the nineteen hundred and second year of Samvat
When the war with the Feringhee broke out, an event so near.
The earth of Punjab was thirsty for so much blood indeed,
It turned blood-red. That's all but clear.
The dust that the earth kicked up, formed clouds in the sky
Just in the same way as a swooping kite from the sky does peer.
o Shah Mohammed! It's the soldiers brave who always offer their
heads;
Never do they run away, nor their names besmear.

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(263)
INDEX OF PLACES
A
Agra-The Mughal capital town on the bank of river Yamuna in modem
Indian State of Uttar Pardesh. Also known for the far-famed Taj.
Ajmer-Seat of Chauhan Rajput Rajas and the Dargah of Khwaja Muin-
ud-Din Chissti in the Indian State of Rajasthan.
B
Batala-A sub-divisional town in Modem Gurdaspur District of the
Punjab. It was the ]agir of Sher Singh. It is presumed that Shah
Mohammed belonged to it. But not a few consider Wadala (Viram),
a village near Amritsar to be his native place.
Bhatinda-A district town of the Punjab state.
Bikaner-eapital of erstwhile Rajput State, now a district head-quarter
of Rajasthan.
Bilawal-A cantonment of Maharaja Ranjit Singh near Lahore.
Budhu-Da-Aawa-A viilage so named after a legendary devotee of the
fIfth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev ]i.
c
Chamba-A hill town on the bank of river Ravi and capital of an
erstwhile hill principality of the same name.
D
Delhi-Ancient capital city of India.
Desh-Desh means country and here it is synonymous with the Punjab.
F
Ferozepur-A British cantonment town on the bank of river Sutlej.
(265)
H
Hansi-An important ancient town, now in modern State of Haryana.
Hissar-A district town of Haryana.
J
Jaipur-Capital town of Kacchwaha Rajputs, now capital of Rajasthan.
Jammu-The capital of Dogra hill principality.
K
Kangra-Capital town of an erstwhile hill principality of the Punjab,
now in Himachal Pardesh. It was the seat of Katoch dynasty.
Kashmir-The enchanting valley bounded by Afghanistan, China and
Punjab hills. It has been often called "Paradise on earth."
Kulu-A hill town in the Beas Valley. Also the name of the valley itself.
Kurukshetra-A Hindu holy town, the place where the epic
Mahabharta is believed to have been fought. Also famous for Lord
Krishna's message of Bhagwad Geeta.
L
Ladakh-A high plateau in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, bordering
Tibet.
Ladwa-A Sikh principality in cis-Sutlej area (Modern Haryana). Raja
Ajit Singh of Ladwa helped the Khalsa Army against the British.
Now a town in Haryana state.
Lahore-Capital town of Sikh Kingdom, now in Pakistan.
Ludhiana-Headquarter of the British political Agency to monitor
events at the Sikh Court. Now an important industrial town of the
Punjab.
M
Mudki-The site of a battle fought between Khalsa Army and the
British.
Mukerian-A sub-divisional town of Hoshiarpur district on Jalandhar-
Pathankot Highway.
Multan-A province of the Sikh Kingdom, now a divisional town of
(266)
Pakistan. It is among the most ancient cities mentioned in the
Hindu mythology.
Munawar-A small fort near Lahore.
N
Nandachaur-A village near Banga in Nawanshahar district of Punjab.
p
Peshawar-Noeth-West Frontier-Post town of Maharaja Ranjit Singh's
kingdom, now in Pakistan.
Phillaur-An advance-eantonment town of Kingdom of Ranjit Singh on
the bank of river Sutlej, now a sub-divisional town of ]alandhar
district.
w
Wadala-A village in district Amritsar. Villages of the same name are
found in other districts of Punjab also.
(267)
INDEX OF NAMES
A
Ajit Singh-0ne of the Sandhawalia Sardars, collaterals of Maharaja
Ranjit Singh.
Akal Regiment-A Regiment of Nihangsj traditional Khalsa warriors.
Akalij Lit. Immortal-0ne who believes in Akal-Almighty God who
is timeless.
Akhbar-Newsletter or Newspaper.
Ali Akbar-Son of Dost Mohd. Khan, the Amir Shah of Kabul whose
gun-shot mortally wounded Hari Singh Nalwa.
Attari-A muffasil town 25 Ian north-west of Amritsar. Native place of
Sham Singh-the Hero of Sabhraon.
Avitabile-The Italian Commander of Ranjit Singh.
B
Beli RamMisr-Afavourite Courtier and confidant ofMaharaja Ranjit Singh.
Bhim Singh-A petty Chieftain, also a Rana of Udaipur (Rajasthan).
Bhoj Raja-A legendary Raja of Malwa (Madhya Pardesh). He is a
byword of learning and wisdom.
Bir Singh-Popularly called Baba Bir Singh, the venerable Head of the
Gurudwara at Naurangabad in Amritsar Distt. Killed in the
internecine warfare of the Sikhs following the death of Maharaja
Ranjit Singh.
Bukti-A Sovereign like gold coin primarily used for necklaces.
c
Chand Kaur, Rani-Widow of Kharak Singh.
Chauldaris-Tents.
(268)
Chet Singh-A brother-in-law of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, murdered by
Raja Dhian Singh. However Shah Mohammed blames Kanwar
Nau Nihal Singh for this murder.
Company Sahib-The British East India Company.
D
Daud Khan Chauhan; Mir-A courtier of Sikh Ruler, Dalip Singh.
Dharam Raj-Lit. courtier, Mythologically he is the god of death who
is supposed to deliver judgements on deeds of human beings after
death.
Dhian Singh, Raja-Dogra Chief, Prime Minister of Maharaja Kharak
Singh.
Doabias-Residents of Doaba-A tract of land between the rivers Sutlej
and Beas (The districts of Jalandhar, Kapurthala and Hoshiarpur).
Dulla Bhatti-A legendary hero of Sandal Bar who sacrificed his life
for saving the honour of a Brahmin girl.
E
Elahi Baksh-Artillery Commander of Sikh forces.
F
Fatta-A Legendary Rajput Hero who fought against Akbar.
Feringhee-An European.
G
Gulab Singh; Raja-Qne of the Jammu Dogra Chieftains at the Sikh
court, the founder of Jammu and Kashmir state.
Gurmukh Singh Giani-A Head Granthi of Darbar Sahib (Golden
Temple).
Gurmata-Ut. Advice of the Guru. Resolution adopted by the collective
body of the Khalsa.
H
Hindu-A follower of ancient religion of India.
Hira Singh, Raja-Son of Raja Dhian Singh; Wazir of Maharaja DaIip
Singh.
(269)
J
Jaimal-A Legendary Rajput hero who fought against Akbar.
Jalla Pandit-A protege of Raja Hira Singh Wazir.
Jallawalias.-That which belongs toJalla. In the poem it looks they were
men of some soldierly Sikh tribe.
Jawahar Singh-Brother of Rani Jindan.
Jind Kaur, Rani-Widow of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and mother of
Maharaja Dalip Singh. She was regent of her young son when the
war took place.
K
Kalagiwalas-Troopers of the Sikh Army trained on European Model.
Kaur Sahib-Kanwar Nau Nihal Singh; son of Maharaja Kharak Singh.
Khalsa-The collective body of the Sikhs.
Kharak Singh, Maharaja-Son and successor of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
He ascended the throne in 1839.
L
Lat-Tundilat-Sir Henry Hardinge, the British Governor General of
India (1844-48).
Lehna Singh (Majithia)-A Sikh chief, courtier of Ranjit Singh who
retired to the British territory dUring the period of turmoil following
the death of Ranjit Singh.
Louts-A derisive term used for the Khalsa soldiers of the post-Ranjit
Singh period.
M
Mai-Lit. mother, woman. Here Rani Jind Kaur, the queen mother
Dowager.
Majhails-The people who belong to Majha; the Central tract of the
Punjab.
Majithias.-The Sikh chiefs belonging to Majitha (Amritsar).
Malwai-People belonging to Malwa tract of the Punjab in the cis-Sutlej
area.
Mewa Singh Majithia-A Sikh chief of post-Ranjit Singh period.
Musalman-A follower of Islam.
(270)
N
Namrud-A legendary ]ewesh king.
Nau Nihal Singh, Kanwar-Son of Kharak Singh, grandson of Maharaja
Ranjit Singh.
p
Pahara of Faridkot who helped the British against the
Khalsa Army.
Panth-Panth stands for collective body of the Khalsa as organised by
Guru Gobind Singh.
Partap Singh, Prince-Son of Maharaja Sher Singh.
Phagun-A month in Indian calender year corresponding to February-
March.
Pharoahs--The kings who once ruled over the ancient Egypt. However,
pejoratively it is used to describe a self-drunken man who thinks
he is God.
Pheru Shah-A village in Ferozepore district where a fierce battle was
fought between British and the Sikh forces.
R
Raja-A Chieftain. In the poem it refers to Dhian Singh, the Prime
Minister.
Rajput-Lit. son of a ruler, a caste of Hindu warriors.
Ranjit Singh-Maharaja of the Punjab 1799-1839.
Ranjodh Singh Majithia-A patriotic Sikh General of post-Ranjit Singh
period.
Ravana-The legendary King of Lanka who fell fighting against the epic
hero Rama. He is the villain of Rarnayana.
s
Sandhawalias--Collaterals of Ranjit Singh.
Sarkar-An epithet by which Ranjit Singh was usually addressed by
his courtiers.
Sutlej-A river flowing through the Punjab which formed boundary
between the Kingdom of the British and Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
(271)
Shahdra-Lit. the Royal gateway, a habitation outside Lahore on the
right bank of river Ravi.
Sham Singh Attariwala-A Sikh general. Father-in-law of Kanwar Nau
Nihal Singh.
Sher Singh Attariwala-A Sikh chief who rebelled against the British.
Singhs-Members of the organised body of the Khalsa.
Suchet Singh-Qne of the three Dogra brothers.
Sultan Mahmud-An artillery officer of the Sikh Forces.
T
Tej Singh-The treacherous Sikh Commander-in-Chief.
u
Udham Singh-Son of Raja Gulab Singh who died alongwith Kanwar
Nau Nihal Singh.
y
Yamuna-A river flowing along present states of Haryana and Delhi.
It merges with the Ganges near Allahabad.
(272)

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